Prime Minister Alexander Stubb (NCP) appeared on YLE's Ykkösaamu on 20 December 2014. It is important that Nato membership is not ruled out in the next government programme, Prime Minister Alexander Stubb (NCP) emphasised in an interview with YLE on Saturday.

“You must first keep in mind that I've always been an advocate of Nato membership. However, now isn't the right time for Nato membership. But, I believe it's important not to rule out Nato membership in the next government programme,” he stated.

The matter could according to Stubb be put to a referendum if all the ruling parties failed to reach a agreement on joining the defence alliance.

The Prime Minister also underlined that he shares the views of President Sauli Niinistö on foreign and security policy. “There's no discrepancy between the views of the Government and the President. It's obvious that we'll proceed hand-in-hand with the President.”

On the other hand, he added, it is vital that no one undermines the common defence policy of the European Union.

Stubb also acknowledged that the environment for foreign and security policy-making has shifted. According to him, the maintenance of credible national defence capabilities nevertheless takes precedence over defence co-operation with Sweden and the European Union, whereas Nato membership will only be considered if necessary.

“It's important that we collaborate with Western democracies,” he highlighted. “Co-operation with Sweden isn't an either-or question. The co-operation has continued for years and will continue in the future.”

Stubb estimated that the meeting between Niinistö and several party leaders on Saturday was a good example of the ability of Finland to determine its policy toward Russia on a consensus basis.

Paula Lehtomäki (Centre) had a few days earlier criticised Stubb in an interview with YLE for what she viewed were inconsistencies in his statements on foreign and security policy. Stubb on Saturday rejected her criticism as a ploy by the opposition, emphasising that the President and Government are fully committed to the policy pursued by Finland.

“I believe Finland is ready for a debate on foreign and security policy,” he added.

In addition, the Prime Minister expressed his concerns over economic conditions in Russia.

“The economic situation in Russia is disconcerting from a Finnish viewpoint. It hasn't, however, changed our situation in terms of foreign and security policy. Russia, and Russia only, can with its actions contribute to alleviating the situation,” he said.

Stubb was on Saturday reluctant to comment on news that the Social Democratic Party has according to a poll by Helsingin Sanomat edged narrowly ahead of the National Coalition Party. “There have been attempts to corner the National Coalition,” he viewed.

Reetta Heiskanen – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva