Rõivas on Finland’s disinterest in NATO membership: Ounce of prevention worth pound of cure (6)

Estonian and Finnish Prime Ministers Taavi Rõivas and Juha Sipilä met in Helsinki on Tuesday. May 10, 2016. (Government of the Republic of Estonia)
5/11/2016 10:52 AM
Category: News

Despite growing international tensions, Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, who recently hosted visiting Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas in Helsinki, found that the current world security situation was not enough to warrant Finland joining NATO. Sipilä found that it was precisely Finland and Sweden not belonging to NATO which helped to guarantee stability in the Baltic Sea region.

While subjects discussed at the Finnish prime minister’s summer residence in Kesäranta officially included IT, transportation and energy economy, one can expect that serious topics also included security policy, Russia, and the economy, reported ETV’s nightly news broadcast “Aktuaalne kaamera.”

When it came to security-related choices, however, the Finnish and Estonian prime ministers continued to disagree. Despite the fact that Taavi Rõivas described Russia’s growing aggression in detail at the press conference held after the two prime ministers’ meeting, this was still not enough, at least for the current Finnish prime minister, to warrant striving for NATO membership.

“My personal attitude toward NATO membership is negative,” noted Sipilä. “It is precisely the zone of unincorporated countries made up by Finland and Sweden which supports the stability of the Baltic Sea region.”

And so Finland will not be moving any closer to joining the alliance anytime soon, despite the report published in Finland on the possible effects of NATO membership, which, without outright suggesting it, considered membership likely.

One obstacle is public opinion, and Finns who would be supportive of possible Finnish membership remain very much the minority. And Sipilä, at least, intends to take public opinion into account.

“A number of political parties, including my own, have decided that even if the government were to for some reason apply for NATO membership, a referendum should then be held on the issue,” explained Sipilä.

Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas, however, promised to pressure Finns on the issue of NATO, even in an unfriendly manner, if necessary. In his opinion, Estonians can only speak of lessons learned in its own history.

Commenting on the prudence of precautionary measures, Rõivas added that “Even in the sunniest of weather it is practical to buy an umbrella.”

Editor: Aili Sarapik

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