The Nordic country’s offer to join the US-led military bloc now needs parliament’s approval.
Finland has officially announced its intention to join 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),”, the statement said.
Finland’s accession to the US-led bloc would require unanimous approval from all 30 existing 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 is approved in a government plenary session, the statement continued.
“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”, said Prime Minister Sanna Marin.
The prime minister added that she hopes the Finnish parliament “accept the decision [on joining NATO] with determination and responsibility.”
Niinistö and Marin are scheduled to hold a press conference on Finland’s bid for NATO membership later today, which is expected to be attended by about 90 journalists.
Finland and neighboring Sweden stayed out of NATO during the Cold War, but the governments of the two Nordic countries have said they have reconsidered their stance following the launch of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine in late February. Moscow has insisted that the membership of Helsinki and Stockholm in the US-led organization would be a mistake and has promised to provide an adequate response to development.
NATO initially hoped for swift ratification of Finland and Sweden’s bids for membership, but on Friday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that his country might oppose their membership. Erdogan described the two nations as “guest houses for terrorist organizations”, referring to the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the People’s Liberation Revolutionary Front (DHKP/C), which have been banned by Ankara.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s top adviser, Ibrahim Kalin, made it clear to Reuters on Saturday that Turkey is not seeking to completely undo Sweden and Finland’s accession to the US-led NATO bloc. Although Ankara’s concerns about organizations he sees as“terrorist” that are operating in these countries must be addressed, the official said.
Finland shares a 1,340-kilometre (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 at the gates of their country violates the principle of “indivisible security”, meaning that neither the Western bloc nor Moscow should be allowed to strengthen their own security at the expense of the other side.