Finland Parliament Debates NATO Membership in Wake of Ukraine Invasion

Finland Parliament Debates NATO Membership in Wake of Ukraine Invasion

Finland’s parliament discussed the possibility of the country looking to join that NATO alliance after a citizens’ initiative demanded a debate on the issue.

The Finnish parliament discussed the issue of NATO on Tuesday despite Social Democratic Party Prime Minister Sanna Marin stating Monday on Twitter that ” There will be no broader discussion on Finland’s line on the relationship to military alliance or non-alignment.”

“As the citizens’ initiative regarding NATO membership has collected the necessary number of signatures and is progressing to Parliament, it is worth hearing the views of the parties on the matter. From this point of view, the issue will also be on the agenda for tomorrow’s parliamentary event,” Marin added.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine last week, the issue of NATO membership for Finland and Sweden has come into the forefront, with Russia specifically warning both countries of consequences for joining the military alliance.

Speaking in the house on Tuesday afternoon, Marin summed up the government’s view when she said: “The party leaders agreed that the foreign policy environment has changed significantly after Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Europe is at war. We must admit that”, the Svenska Yle news network reported. While public opinions on NATO membership was changing, the Prime Minister nevertheless said it would not be an issue “settled quickly” and the government would not “base the decisions on an opinion poll.”

Nevertheless, Marin said, Finland is well defended even if the security budget must now be increased.

There is dissent in parliament on the matter, though. The minority centrist-right National Coalition Party supports Finland joining NATO immediately, Svenska Yle notes.

Concern over a broader conflict has led Finns to buy large quantities of anti-radiation iodine tablets and to prepare a thousand beds for fleeing Ukrainians as Russia threatens consequences if the country joins NATO.

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Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, however, brushed off the warnings over the weekend saying, “We don’t think that it calls for a military threat,” and said Finland had heard the same rhetoric in the past.

Attitudes to Finland joining the NATO alliance have also changed significantly in recent years, with a 2017 poll indicating that just 19 per cent of Finns favoured their country joining NATO.

On Monday, a new poll released by broadcaster YLE showed that now 53 per cent of Finns would support the country joining NATO and just 28 per cent were against breaking with the country’s decades-long history of neutrality.

Postdoctoral Researcher Johanna Vuorelma from the University of Helsinki commented on the poll saying, “A truly significant turn of events in public opinion. You could say that the political continental plates are on the move. It does not occur to me to have such a significant transition in public opinion.”

The poll, which was conducted the day prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine last week, shows that men are far more likely to support NATO membership at 64 per cent compared to 41 per cent of women who supported joining the alliance.

Since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, pharmacies in Finland have reported large sales of iodine tablets, which are used against possible nuclear fallout, highlighting Finns’ concerns that the conflict could spread and escalate.

Sweden’s Political Left Stands Against Govt Sending Weapons to Ukrainehttps://t.co/7MkqqU8ZiP

— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 1, 2022

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com.

Chris Tomlinson