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Finnish NATO Membership Not If But When, Says Mihkelson

MP Marko Mihkelson
MP Marko Mihkelson Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

The chairman of Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee says sabre-rattling by Russian generals will only help to speed Finnish accession to NATO.

The head of the Russian general staff, Gen. Nikolai Makarov, recently said that Finnish-NATO cooperation posed a threat to Russia.

There had been behind-the-scenes talk of this before, said Marko Mihkelson. "Russia has said directly that if Finland should embark on a path to joining NATO, it would be a big blow to Finnish-Russian friendship. Now Makarov said it would also be a big blow to Russian security," said Mihkelson on ERR radio.

He said it was not a question of if but when Finland should become a NATO member. "I think these quite bold statements that Makarov has made specifically about Finland and, in recent weeks, generally about NATO, will pressure Finnish politicians to think more seriously about the right time to join NATO."

Mihkelson said that the Russian defense doctrine said clearly that one of the greatest security threats is NATO expansion on its borders. "We know how Georgia's very clearly expressed desire to start on a path toward NATO turned out. It was followed by war breaking out in August 2008 on the South Ossetia and Abkhazia front."

"For Finland, Makarov's words are a reminder that Finland did not support the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but I think what is talking here is the idee fixe that NATO is bad and dangerous and must be opposed, at least rhetorically," said Mihkelson.

Kristopher Rikken

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