Finland formally confirms intention to join NATO

TEHRAN, May 15 (MNA) – Finland has formally confirmed it intends to join NATO, abandoning decades of military non-alignment in a historic decision amid the Ukraine war.

“Finland is applying for NATO membership,” said the country’s president, Sauli Niinistö, at a press conference. “A protected Finland is being born as part of a stable, strong and responsible Nordic region. We gain security and we also share it. It’s good to keep in mind that security isn’t a zero-sum game.”

The prime minister, Sanna Marin, said the proposal would now be sent to parliament for ratification. “Our decision is historic,” she said. “As a member of NATO, we will also be responsible for the security of the alliance as a whole.”

Neighbouring Sweden’s ruling party also holding a decisive meeting on whether to join the 30-member defensive alliance next week.

Finland shares an 810-mile (1,300km) border with Russia and, like Sweden, has maintained strict policies of neutrality and then non-alignment since the end of the second world war.

Three days after Finland’s leaders said it “must apply for NATO membership without delay”, the membership proposal is expected to be laid before parliament for ratification on Monday.

Niinistö called his Russian counterpart, Putin, on Saturday and informed him his country aimed to join NATO, in a conversation he described as “direct and straightforward”. He added, “Avoiding tensions was considered important.”

Russia has repeatedly warned Finland and Sweden against joining NATO, saying such a move would oblige it to “restore military balance” by strengthening its defences in the Baltic Sea region, including by deploying nuclear weapons.

Putin responded to Niinistö’s call by saying NATO membership “would be a mistake, since there is no threat to Finland’s security”, according to a readout of the call released by the Kremlin.

Speaking ahead of a meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) foreign ministers in Berlin, the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss reiterated the UK's support of Finland and Sweden for joining the military alliance, saying, "We are very pleased to be joined by our friends, Finland and Sweden if they do it apply to join NATO, the UK is strongly supportive of that. We are working closely with Ukraine and others to make sure that Ukraine has standards of NATO defence."

However, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has expressed his opposition to the move, based on what he said was the countries’ accommodating attitude towards the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), which is on the EU’s list of terrorist organisations.

Nato’s deputy secretary-general, Mircea Geoană, said on Sunday he was confident Turkey’s concerns over Finland and Sweden joining the alliance could be addressed. 


News Code 186811


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