Finland confirms application for Nato membership

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President Sauli Niinistö announced Finland would apply for Nato membership
President Sauli Niinistö announced Finland would apply for Nato membership

Finland’s president and government have confirmed that they will seek to join Nato, despite Russia’s warning that membership would be a "mistake."

President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin made the announcement at a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on Sunday.

Finland, which shares a long border with Russia, has previously been a neutral country.

“Finland is applying for Nato membership,” said President Niinistö. “A protected Finland is being born as part of a stable, strong and responsible Nordic region. We gain security and we also share it. It’s good to keep in mind that security isn’t a zero-sum game.”

Ms Marin, said the decision was "historic,”.

“As a member of Nato, we will also be responsible for the security of the alliance as a whole.”

The decision will now be passed to the Finnish parliament for ratification. It's expected to ease through with little opposition.

Mr Niinistö spoke to Vladimir Putin on Saturday. The Kremlin readout of the call said the Russian president had stressed the "end of the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake since there is no threat to Finland's security".

It added: "Such a change in the country's political orientation can have a negative impact on Russian-Finnish relations developed over years in a spirit of good neighbourliness and co-operation between partners."

Sweden could soon follow their Finnish neighbours, overturning their decades-long policy of neutrality and non-alignment.

Polls show that since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, public support for Nato accession in Sweden is now between 50 and 60 per cent.

However, Turkey could oppose the move. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused both countries of harbouring "terrorist organisations" because of their attitude towards the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK).

Nato’s deputy secretary general, Mircea Geoană, said on Sunday he was confident Turkey’s concerns over Finland and Sweden joining the alliance could be addressed. “I am confident if these countries decide to seek membership in Nato we will be able to welcome them to find all conditions for consensus to be met,” he said.

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