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Niinistö: In case of war help for Estonia more than ‘rice and potatoes’

Finnish president Sauli Niinistö.
Finnish president Sauli Niinistö. Source: (Reuters/Scanpix)

In an open question round in the city of Pori on Wednesday, Finnish president Sauli Niinistö faced the question whether or not Finland would come to Estonia’s aid in case the latter was attacked.

Niinistö received hundreds of questions leading up to the event in Pori. He took about an hour to answer them, according to Suomenmaa, the paper of his party.

In addition to questions about Finland’s politics, economy, immigration, and social life, topics also included NATO, and whether or not Finland would help Estonia in case it was attacked.

The one important issue was security, Niinistö said in response to the question whether or not Finland should become part of NATO. “We have to guarantee our security to the maximum extent. I’m happy that it’s part of [Finnish prime minister] Sipilä’s government’s election platform that we don’t close that door—we reserve the option to apply for membership in NATO. The previous government excluded this option. Currently the situation is satisfactory,” Niinistö said.

“If Estonia is attacked, will Finland help?”

Faced with this question, Niinistö said he doubted that military conflict in the Baltic states would be entirely local. “If there’s war in that area, there is war somewhere else as well. Then we’re already talking about a big war. If Russia and NATO go to war, they won’t limit themselves to Estonia or the Baltic states. But of course we’re helping Estonia already,” he said.

In his somewhat noncommittal answer, the president didn’t specify what kind of help this would be in the case of war, but he did say that Finland’s aid would not be limited to “sending over rice and potatoes”.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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