Finnish Minister of European Affairs in the Coalition Government, led by the leader of the Social Democrats Sanna Marin, Tytti TupPurainen, social democrat also, returns to the tilting of Finland in favor of NATO.
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Finland could announce its desire to join NATO on Thursday, May 12. Independent since 1917, the small Nordic country of 5.5 million inhabitants, which shares 1,340 kilometers of borders with Russia, is a member of the European Union, but militarily aligned. While the Finns have always been mainly against membership, public opinion has changed since February 24 and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
How do you explain this paradigm change?
This change is not so sudden. We have continually evaluated the security situation. We have prepared for all kinds of crisis scenarios, including a military threat. In the Sanna Marin government program and many previous governments, there is an option that allows us to ask to join NATO, if the security environment changes and it becomes necessary. Since our membership of the European Union, we have chosen not to be neutral, but firmly anchored in the western sphere. Adhesion to NATO can be seen as a very natural finalization of our Western integration.
What has war in Ukraine changed for the Finn?
No one had really predicted what happened on February 24. We could not imagine that Putin was cruel enough to trigger a war in Ukraine. It led to a debate here. Despite an intense commitment and attempts to control and contain Russia and Putin’s action in one way or another, we failed. As our President Sauli Niinistö said: the masks have fallen. We have seen the true face of Russia and Vladimir Putin: that of a ruthless dictator, capable of attacking an innocent neighboring country, which expressed its desire to be a member of the European Union and one day of the NATO. In this context, the reaction of the Finns was understandable.
How did political discussions go?
The support of public opinion was not enough. We needed a parliamentary process. To this end, the government has prepared a report analyzing the changes in our security environment [published on April 13]. He served as a basis for the debate in Parliament. The question was discussed in depth in each parliamentary committee. We have heard dozens of safety experts.
Now, the time has come to make a decision. The President of the Republic said publicly that he would announce his position on Thursday, May 12. It will probably be the day the Prime Minister also expresses her personal opinion. As we speak, it seems highly likely that the outcome [of this process] is favorable to adhesion to NATO and that we quickly submit an accession request.
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