Niinistö: Finland missed opportunity to join NATO 20 years ago

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö (l) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (r) Photo: President.fi

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö told the Washington Post in a weekend interview that  “it would have been a very easy step” for Finland to have joined NATO twenty years ago because “Russia was very weak at that time.”

In response to PM Alexander Stubb’s comments supporting NATO membership for Finland, Niinistö said “if Finland joins NATO, that would undoubtedly harm our relations [with Russia].” Niinistö also said that the time is not right for Finnish membership in the defense alliance.

Russian fighters have repeatedly violated Finnish airspace over the past several months Photo: Wikimedia

In an interview published in the same Post article, Finnish Foreign Minister, Erkki Tuomioja stated that he doesn’t support NATO membership for Finland and that Finns in general do not support membership either.

Tuomioja said that that NATO membership won’t be an election issue when Finland goes to the polls this coming spring, saying that “The Conservative Party and the Swedish Party are very much in favor of NATO membership. But the electorate is not, so they are not going to win if they do it. And neither are we, the Social Democrats, going to make this into a bigger issue.”

In September, the Finnish Foreign Minister criticized EU sanctions against Russia after saying that in Eastern Ukriaine “there are actors who are not fully Russian government troops,” and that there “should be no further sanctions.”

 

 

 

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