Finland has officially announced its intention of joining the NATO military alliance.
During a cabinet meeting on Sunday, President Sauli Niinistö and ministers “agreed that Finland would apply for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO),” a government statement read.
Finnish accession to the US-led bloc would require the unanimous approval of the existing 30 member states, including Turkey, which has suggested it could veto the move.
A report on Finland’s planned membership will be submitted to the national parliament once it’s endorsed at a government plenary session, the statement went on to say.
- “Our decision is historic. The most important thing is the safety of Finland and our citizens. The decision strengthens security and cooperation between the Nordic countries,” Prime Minister Sanna Marin said.
The premier added that she expects the Finnish parliament to “accept the decision [on joining NATO] with determination and responsibility.”
- Niinistö and Marin are scheduled to hold a press-conference on Finland’s NATO membership bid later today, with some 90 journalists expected to be in attendance.
Finland and its neighbor Sweden stayed out of NATO during the Cold War, but the governments in the two Nordic countries have said they’ve reconsidered their stance after the launch of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine in late February. Moscow has insisted that Helsinki’s and Stockholm’s membership in the US-led organisation would be a mistake and has promised to come up with an appropriate response to the development.
NATO initially expected a swift ratification of the Finnish and Swedish membership bids, but on Friday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that his country could oppose their accession.
Erdogan described the two nations as “guesthouses for terrorist organizations,” referring the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front (DHKP/C), which have been outlawed by Ankara.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s top adviser Ibrahim Kalin clarified to Reuters on Saturday that Turkey is not seeking to outright shoot down the accession of Sweden and Finland to the US-led NATO bloc. Though Ankara’s concerns about organizations it deems to be “terrorist” that are operating in these countries must be addressed, the official said.
- Finland shares a 1,340-kilometer (832-mile) land border with Russia and fought a war with the Soviet Union in 1939.
Russian leaders have argued that having NATO members and strategic weapons deployed on their country’s doorstep violates the principle of “indivisible security,” meaning neither the Western bloc nor Moscow should be allowed to strengthen its own security at the expense of the other party.