Whereas Finland's President Sauli Niinistö made previously clear that a popular referendum is a necessary prerequisite for Finnish NATO membership, researcher Magnus Christiansson at the Swedish National Defense University, believes the situation is not the way it is being put. According to him, Finland will never become a NATO member, unless Sweden sets an example.
"I believe that Finland joins NATO if Sweden does, but unless Sweden goes first," Christiansson told the Finnish national newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet during the SuomiAreena political summer event.
"If the Conservative Alliance in Sweden promises to submit a NATO application once they win the election, there is really is no need for a referendum. But I doubt if they wish to do so, as the public support is insufficient," Christiansson said.
Of late, Sweden's Conservative Party has included NATO membership to its election agenda. According to estimates by former Conservative Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who is regarded as one of Sweden's foremost "hawks," Stockholm will have to become a NATO member within 10 years, the Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri reported.
The four new rotational Nato battalions in the Baltic states and Poland increases stability for the entire region. Also for Sweden.— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) July 9, 2016
"The problem is that Finland and Sweden may end up having somewhat different interests in case of a conflict. Then we have built up a force that is useless. Had we both been NATO members, we would not have had that problem," Christiansson pointed out.
Despite his vocal support for the NATO cause, Christiansson admitted that the membership implies both rights and obligations.
Public support for the idea of Sweden becoming a NATO member has dropped from 41 to 33 percent in less than a year, a poll by Svenska Dagbladet revealed. Similarly, recent polls show that Finns too have cooled off to the idea of holding a referendum on NATO. Polls commissioned by national broadcaster MTV indicated that 42 percent of Finns support the idea of a referendum on Finnish NATO membership, Hufvudstadsbladet reported.