Finland Moves Toward NATO Membership Decision ‘Within Weeks’ Rather Than Months

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Wednesday said Helsinki is moving toward a decision on applying to join the NATO military alliance “within weeks” and “not within months.”

“I won’t give any kind of timetable when we will make our decisions, but I think it will happen quite fast, within weeks, not within months,” Marin said during an April 13 joint news conference with her Swedish counterpart in Stockholm.

Marin made the announcement while meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in the country’s capital. The two leaders discussed how to strengthen the security of both Nordic countries in the changing security environment.

The ongoing war in Ukraine has triggered a surge in support for joining NATO in the two traditionally militarily non-aligned Nordic countries. Finland, which has a population of 5.5 million, shares the EU’s longest border with Russia, an 833-mile frontier.

“The European security architecture has changed fundamentally after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The change in the security landscape makes it necessary to analyze how we best secure peace for Finland and in our region in the future,” Marin said.

NTD Photo
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson left), and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin pose for photographers ahead of a meeting on whether to seek NATO membership, in Stockholm, Sweden, on April 13, 2022. (Paul Wennerholm/TT via AP)

While Finland hasn’t expressed a strong interest in joining NATO for decades, a sudden U-turn in public opinion to apply for membership shifted after an opinion poll last month showed that, for the first time, more than 50 percent of Finns support joining the alliance. In neighboring Sweden, a similar poll showed that those in favor of NATO membership outnumber those against it.

“We are giving today to the Parliament the paper, which will analyze different options for Finland in the future for our security,” said Marin, adding that the 200-seat Eduskunta legislature needs to reach a consensus.

“This is very important for Finland when it comes to security and also foreign policies to have as wide a consensus as possible because we do have a right-next-door neighbor, Russia,” she said.

Once members, Finland and Sweden would benefit from NATO’s collective defense clause, which obliges all 30 member countries to come to the aid of any ally that comes under attack.

Russia, for its part, has previously warned Sweden and Finland against joining NATO, with officials saying it would not contribute to stability in Europe. Moscow said it would respond to such a move with retaliatory measures that would cause “military and political consequences” for Helsinki and Stockholm.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s top civilian official, said earlier this month that if Finland and Sweden decide to apply for NATO membership, all allies of the defensive alliance would quickly welcome both Nordic countries.

Marin stressed on Wednesday that the two neighboring countries, which have close economic, political, and military ties, will make independent decisions regarding their security policy arrangements, including whether to join NATO.

Andersson said Sweden and Finland would maintain “a very close dialogue and have a very straightforward and honest discussion” in the coming weeks over their countries’ respective choices on becoming NATO members.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.