The situation in Europe has changed in light of the events in eastern Ukraine, and Europeans must realize that the period of peace that lasted up to now was not unbreakable, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö told ETV in an interview aired Monday night.
When asked about the conclusions Finland has drawn from the Ukrainian crisis, the president replied that the conditions have changed. Although he would not say the Cold War has returned, there is deep mistrust and Europe must face the fact that the period of peace was not unbreakable.
“It is a completely new situation. How does it affect Finland? The same way it affects everyone else; certain fundamental principles are changing in some way,” the president said.
Speaking about defense, the president stressed the importance of ensuring the quality of Finnish defense forces and efficient regional defense. Partnerships are also important, Niinistö said, highlighting the defense co-operation between Finland and Sweden and their relations with NATO.
“In addition, I also hope that the wake-up call ringing through Europe would move people to discuss the common defense and security policy of Europe,” Niinistö said.
When asked about the possibility of Finland joining NATO, he stressed that the option is not in the program of the current government and no one has made any moves to add it. The nation must defend itself decisively and develop its capabilities regardless of memberships, he said.
When it comes to Finnish-Russian relations, Finland is in a unique position in the European Union because it shares a longer stretch of border with Russia than all other EU countries combined. “Naturally, we must understand this fact and live with this neighbor and develop this relationship so there would be no problems. It’s quite simple. Despite this, of course, we will follow the policies of the EU.”