ERR in Helsinki: Joe Biden heralds new era in Finland's security policy

Presidents Biden and Niinistö in Helsinki Thursday, July 13, 2023.
Presidents Biden and Niinistö in Helsinki Thursday, July 13, 2023. Source: Office of the President of Finland.

A new era has begun in Finnish security policy, while President of the United States Joe Biden is one of those who has written that into the annals, Sauli Niinistö, Biden's opposite number in Finland, says.

ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported that President Biden was in Helsinki Thursday, off the back of the NATO summit in Vilnius earlier this week, Finland's first as a member of the alliance.

As for one of the most hotly debated topics in Vilnius, whether and when concrete steps will be taken towards a specific accession route to NATO for Ukraine, the U.S. President stressed that the fact that this has not yet happened would not provide impetus to Russia to continue prosecuting its invasion of Ukraine for an indefinite period of time.

President Biden said the Helsinki meeting, at which he and President Niinistö were joined by heads of government of the Nordic nations, had been fruitful. He also reiterated unwavering U.S. support for Finland.

As for Ukraine, for as long as the current war continues, Ukraine joining the alliance is out of the question, as it would lead to what has been referred to as world war three.

In any case, the Putin regime has no chance of victory in the current war, Biden added.

Speaking at the post-meeting press conference Thursday, Biden said: "It's not about whether [Ukraine] should or shouldn't join, it's about when they can join; and they will join NATO. There is going to be a circumstance where eventually President Putin is going to decide it's not in the interests of Russia economically, politically or otherwise, to continue this war."

Finland's president said that the joining process had been undertaken with caution, but now his country was a full NATO member, he no longer saw a direct threat to the country, likely primarily referring to its eastern neighbor.

"The situation is quite calm and I hope it remains as such, but I just want to tell you that the Finnish people do feel more secure," President Niinistö said.

While the Finnish media had heralded Thursday's summit as a major diplomatic achievement, AK reports, ordinary Finns were more lukewarm about the official visit, with the streets as empty of local residents, but conversely full of foreign tourists, as they normally would be during summer – while U.S. flags away from the official locations were not particularly prevalent.

None of this should be taken as representing an outburst of anti sentiment towards the U.S., Biden or NATO, however, and is more likely an expression of Finnish sang froid.

In any case, recent research suggests the already-high Finnish public opinion of the leading NATO nation has if anything risen of late, a trend confirmed by the short vox pop taken by AK on the streets of Helsinki.

The meeting, it is hoped in Finland, will also lay the foundation for further cooperation and visits; several issues require further discussion, for instance Finland's integration into the NATO structure in practical terms.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera'

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