"We have partnership relations with NATO, but Finland is not a member to the alliance. As a sovereign state, we, of course, believe that we have a right to determine our foreign policy. And there are no plans to join NATO in our foreign policy," Hautala said during his visit to Russia's Sverdlovsk Region.
Hautala's visit is taking place on May 16-19. Its agenda includes meetings with the Sverdlovsk Region's leadership, a trade and economic development working group meeting, visiting the region's industrial facilities and Ural Federal University, as well as holding a business forum. The Finnish delegation includes representatives from 20 Finnish enterprises operating in the manufacturing, metallurgic, construction and logistics sectors.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said earlier in May that NATO was becoming more interested in dialogue with Russia. Moscow and Helsinki are currently holding talks on flights safety over the Baltic region which do not include NATO.
At the summit in Warsaw in July 2016, NATO decided to send international battalions to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to deter alleged Russian aggression. Reacting to NATO's move, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow has no plans to attack any NATO member.