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Ambassador: Presidential runners grasp that Ukraine's future impacts on Finland too

Estonian Ambassador to Finland Sven Sakkov.
Estonian Ambassador to Finland Sven Sakkov. Source: ERR

A common understanding can be observed in Finnish politics, that the security of Ukraine also affects Finland's security, Estonia's Ambassador to Finland Sven Sakkov says.

Finland currently goes to the polls, with former prime minister Alexander Stubb and Pekka Haavisto, running for the third time now, through to the second round run-off.

Sakkov, who admittedly as a diplomat cannot take sides in any case, told ETV foreign affairs show "Välissilm" Monday that either candidate will on becoming head of state be able to unify society in Estonia's northern neighbor.

He also pointed to some differences between the office of president in Finland, which involves a direct election by the Finnish people, and in Estonia, whose heads of state are elected by the legislature for the most part.

Sakkov said: "A very strong mandate from the people is written into the office of the Finnish president. But also, in Finland, unlike in Estonia, the office of the president is very clearly associated with a leading role in shaping foreign policy, plus a leading role in the management of national defense."

According to Sakkov, Finns take the defense and security of their country very seriously.

"The concept of national defense is strong in Finland, and they feel confident about it, while, now, NATO membership has been added to Finland's own national defense."

Finland formally acceded to NATO last year having applied following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, now nearly two years old and with little to no progress for Russia during that time.

Finland's lengthy border with the Russian Federation made it a key addition to the alliance.

"They themselves would stress that they have a separate military cooperation agreement with the U.S., and such cooperation forms an additional assurance. This is not a question of fear, but of preparedness, and, as always, the better prepared you are, the less likely it is that you will need to apply this preparation to a real-life scenario," the ambassador continued.

Whereas earlier, Finnish politicians had thought it possible to hold dialogue with Russia and resolve problems peaceably, now, according to Sakkov, that opinion in Finland has changed.

"Right now, there is a general state of affairs in Finnish politics, - and I'm not only talking about the two remaining presidential candidates, but about all nine who were entered the first round – whereby they all had a common understanding that it is not possible to have any kind of dialogue with Russia at this time," Sakkov continued.

"All nine candidates agreed on the necessity of continuing to aid Ukraine with military support and material, even if the military support from the rest of the EU member states had Ukraine begun to falter. In short, that the future and security of Ukraine affects the security and future of Finland, in a very direct way, has been very clearly understood," he summed up.

The second round presidential election day run-off takes place in Finland on February 11.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: 'Välissilm,' interviewer Astrid Kannel.

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