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    In this file photo dated Aug. 29, 2014, NATO naval mine countermeasure vessels berth in Turku, Finland, during the international Northern Coasts 2014 (NOCO14) military exercise

    Finland Referendum on Joining NATO Possible

    © AP Photo / RONI LEHTI / Lehtikuva via AP, FILE
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    Chairman of the Finnish parliamentary defense committee, Ilkka Kanerva, said that decision on which instrument to use for deciding whether to join the NATO "depends very much on the circumstances," and reminded that "there have been two referendums in the NATO nations."

    In this file photo dated Aug. 29, 2014, NATO naval mine countermeasure vessels berth in Turku, Finland, during the international Northern Coasts 2014 (NOCO14) military exercise
    © AP Photo / RONI LEHTI / Lehtikuva via AP, FILE
    TBILISI (Sputnik), Svetlana Alexandrova — A national referendum on Finland's North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) membership could be held if the government decides to join the alliance, a chairman of the Finnish parliamentary defense committee, Ilkka Kanerva, told Sputnik Sunday.

    Kanerva is also the President of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) whose meeting is being held in Tbilisi, Georgia, from July 1-5.

    "A referendum [on joining NATO] is one of the alternatives we have and it will be one of the realistic approaches if there would be a need for it," Kanerva said on the sidelines of the ongoing OSCE PA meeting.

    Kanerva added that a decision on which instrument to use for deciding whether to join the alliance "depends very much on the circumstances," and reminded that "there have been two referendums in the NATO nations."

    Earlier in the day, Kanerva said that Finland may consider joining NATO when the need to defend its national security arises, adding that the current Finish defense strategy does not include any timetable or procedures for joining the Alliance.

    Finland along with Sweden are expected to join the NATO summit in Warsaw on July 8-9 as non-aligned states. In May and earlier in June, Finland and Sweden’s foreign and defense ministers took part, for the first time ever, in NATO ministerial talks in Brussels.

    Finland keeps the option of NATO membership alive, and participates in NATO-led military drills.

    Kanerva also stated that the NATO enlargement is not a strategic goal of the alliance, but is motivated by the desire of national states to join the military bloc.

    "Ukraine has been trying to join NATO many times but the alliance has been very cool about it. It confirms that the enlargement is not basic political goal or the NATO strategy in Europe," Kanerva said.

    In early June, Georgian and Ukrainian officials said they were anticipating the accession of Montenegro to the NATO at its July summit in Warsaw, indicating NATO’s commitment to an open door membership policy, and emphasized the importance of NATO’s open-door membership policy in light of their own country’s leadership pursuing a path to become full members of the alliance.

    Both Georgia and Ukraine are currently NATO partners and regularly engage in military training and capacity building exercises with the alliance. Montenegro will be the first new state to join the alliance since 2008, if the alliance unanimously agrees on its accession.

    On June 18, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that NATO is completely disregarding Russia’s concerns with regard to the alliance’s expansion.

    Related:

    Finland’s Defense Chief Doesn’t Rule Out NATO Membership
    Finland Risks 'Serious Crisis' in Relations With Russia if it Joins NATO
    Finland, Sweden Should Make Decision on Joining NATO Separately
    Not Without My Neighbor: Finland, Sweden Ponder NATO Membership, Again
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    referendum, NATO, Ilkka Kanerva, Finland
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