Finnish PM: Debate over joining NATO to be thorough, but quick

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin in Tallinn on Monday. March 7,  2022.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin in Tallinn on Monday. March 7, 2022. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Discussions regarding Finland's possible joining of NATO will be thorough but quick, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on a visit to Tallinn on Monday. Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) confirmed that Estonia would welcome Finland's accession to NATO and would ratify the protocols for its accession at lightning speed.

"We are not stalling, but we will hold a very thorough debate on this topic," Marin said at the two prime ministers' joint press conference on Monday. "Currently we are considering how this discussion should be held, as this decision would affect the Finnish Defense Forces, our security more broadly as well as the economy."

The Finnish prime minister stressed that the security situation of both her country and Europe as a whole has changed following Russia's aggression.

As the entire security situation has changed due to Russia's actions, this in turn has affected the way Finns are thinking, she said.

"We are starting to discuss future options regarding our security, and this is being done in parliament, in various state institutions such as with the participation of the president, as well as between and within political parties," Marin continued. "These discussions will be thorough."

The prime minister declined to say whether the decision to join NATO or not may be reached within her current term, but confirmed that these discussions would nonetheless not take very long."We're moving quickly, although these discussions will be thorough," she said.

Finland's next parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place next April.

Speaking at the press conference, Kallas said that should the people of Finland decide to join NATO, then Estonia will welcome this with open arms. "If you fear that this may weaken your country's defense, we are confirming that that will not be the case," she said. The Estonian head of government also referred to Estonia's defense system, in which both reserves and the volunteer Estonian Defense League play a role, which is similar to the organization of national defense in Finland.

"Finland and Sweden's accession would strengthen NATO, but I believe it would strengthen Finland and Sweden's own security as well," Kallas added.

While Finns have had a decades-long history of skepticism regarding the prospect of joining NATO, the results of a poll conducted in late February, following Russia's attack on Ukraine, saw popular support for joining the alliance exceed the 50-percent mark for the first time ever.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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