Estonian ambassador: Finland likely to join NATO by end of year
If everything goes the way it appears to be going and Finland formally applies to join NATO by the Madrid summit in June, then it's likely that Finland will accede to NATO by the end of 2022, Estonian Ambassador to Finland Sven Sakkov said on Vikerraadio's "Välistund" on Monday.
According to Sakkov, it looks likely right now that Finland will submit its application sometime before the NATO summit to take place in Madrid at the end of June, and Sweden will follow suit, if not immediately, then likewise by the summit.
"I believe that Sweden will follow later thus that they will also receive an invitation to join, if needed, at the Madrid summit on June 29-30," he said.
If he had to place bets right now, the ambassador continued, then it was likely that Finland would join NATO by the end of this year, and that one can only hope that accession takes place as quickly as possible.
MP Leo Kunnas (EKRE), a member of the National Defense Committee of the Riigikogu, said that both countries' joining of the alliance would depend on each country's decision. "Finland will bring Sweden with it," Kunnas said. "They most likely won't go their separate ways."
MEP Riho Terras (Isamaa), former commander of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), said that if Finland and Sweden should both apply for membership at the Madrid summit, then the ratification process in 30 member states could take an unpredictable amount of time.
"I hope this happens as quickly as possible," Terras said. "Then the security situation of the Baltic Sea will change just as the situation was changed by Russia's near complete occupation of Belarus and its positioning of its strategic military units there."
More info on Baltic Sea region
Terras noted that if Finland and Sweden do join, NATO's aerial and marine overview of the Baltic Sea region would be harmonized, which would also significantly impact early warning times.
"We couldn't do that in allied relations with Finland and Sweden; right now we are just good friends," he added.
The former EDF commander also noted that Finland's accession would also mean an underwater overview of the Baltic Sea.
Sakkov acknowledged that while NATO's aerial overview is currently more comprehensive, it still has less coverage in the Baltic Sea region.
The Estonian ambassador expressed hope that there would be clarity on the matter by the end of the year, at which point joint activities can begin to be planned together.
"The accession of Finland, nicknamed Sparta of the North, with NATO will mean pretty significant changes to the region's security situation," Sakkov said. "And Sweden's accession would, for the first time, grant us some sort of strategic depth that, in addition to alleviating the Suwalki Gap issue, would help contribute to the military protection of the Baltic countries."
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Editor: Aili Vahtla