President Sauli Niinistö reacted at a press conference organised at the Finnish Embassy in Washington DC on Thursday, 9 March 2023. Niinistö on Sunday briefed Finnish cabinet members about the nature of his discussions with decision makers, including US President Joe Biden, during his five-day visit to the US. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

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PRESIDENT Sauli Niinistö and the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy met yesterday to discuss the Finnish accession to Nato.

Piritta Asunmaa, a director at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, told YLE that the meeting was held exceptionally on a Sunday because the calendars of ministers are packed with campaign-related events this week.

It appears that the meeting was called at a short notice. Turun Sanomat reported earlier yesterday evening that the meeting prompted Minister of Education Li Andersson (LA) to cancel a campaign event in Southwest Finland.

The decision-makers discussed the accession process based on takeaways from a meeting between Finland, Sweden and Turkey in Brussels on Thursday, 9 March. The trilateral meeting marked the resumption of a process to pave the way for the two countries to accede that had been gridlocked for weeks.

While Jukka Salovaara, a state secretary at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, said the meeting was constructive, Ibrahim Kahn, a spokesperson for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said neither Finland nor Sweden has done enough for Turkey to ratify their bids to join Nato, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

The ministers were also briefed about the five-day visit of Niinistö to the US.

Niinistö last week sat down, among others, with US President Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy, the newly elected Republican Speaker of the US House of Representatives. Biden, he said at a press conference in Washington DC on Thursday, reaffirmed his support to the membership bids of both Finland and Sweden.

A meeting between the two presidents was not originally on the itinerary, but it was put together at short notice at the initiative of the White House.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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