President Sauli Niinistö spoke at a press conference at the Finnish Embassy in Washington DC on 4 March 2022. (Sarah Silbiger – STR / Lehtikuva)


PRESIDENT Sauli Niinistö on Thursday reminded that Finland is pursuing Nato membership to maximise its own security.

“Through Nato membership, Finland maximises its own security. It is without detriment to anyone, it is not targeted at anyone. As a member of the alliance, Finland naturally bears its own share of the responsibility for the whole community’s security,” he wrote in a blog post.

“As a member of Nato, Finland will not grow any bigger than it is.”

Although Niinistö described the prevalent situation as a “historic turning point”, he estimated that the membership will not change everything. “Even in the future, Finland’s security will remain the highest priority of our foreign and security policy.”

“Russia is and continues to be Finland’s neighbouring country. We must be able to address practical issues with it even in the future.”

He began his post by citing the speech he delivered on New Year’s: “‘In the fast-paced world, it is more valuable than ever to know when to hurry and when to have patience,’ I said in my New Year’s speech. This spring, we have succeeded well in following this principle in Finland. Together, we have both made haste and shown patience. The Finnish democracy has displayed its unique power.”

Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) revealed earlier yesterday they believe Finland “must apply for Nato membership without delay”.

The announcement prompted a flood of statements in support of the membership also from other leading policy-makers, including Minister of Education Li Andersson (Left Alliance), Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto (Greens), Minister of Defence Antti Kaikkonen (Centre), Minister of the Interior Krista Mikkonen (Greens) and Minister of European Affairs and Ownership Steering Tytti Tuppurainen (SDP).

“Although I also see risks in the possible decision, I’m ready to accept Finland’s Nato membership because it reflects the will of the clear majority of the public and Parliament,” wrote Andersson.

“I’m ready to accept that the option I personally considered the best, European co-operation, isn’t the same kind of realistic option in the current situation. We should’ve had the foresight to build toward this option a lot earlier.”

Many Nato countries, in turn, responded to the announcement by welcoming and pledging support to Finland.

“You can count on our full support. We support a rapid accession process. From our side [we] will make the necessary steps quickly,” tweeted Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.

“Finland’s decision to initiate Nato accession is great news for Poland and Europe’s security,” commented Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime minister of Poland. “Poland supports Finland joining Nato as quickly and smoothly as possible.”

“I welcome Finland’s decision to speak out in favour of the country’s immediate accession to Nato,” echoed German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. “In a phone call with President Sauli Niinistö, I assured Finland of the German government’s full support.”

Dmitry Peskov, the chief spokesperson of the Kremlin, viewed that Finland joining Nato is a hostile move that “definitely” poses a security threat to Russia.

“The expansion of Nato and the approach of the alliance to our borders does not make the world and our continent more stable and secure,” he said. “Everything will depend on how this process takes place, how far the military infrastructure moves towards our borders.”

Global Times, an English-language daily affiliated with the People’s Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, warned that Nato’s northward expansion could threaten security in Europe.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT