NATO’s presence at the Russian-Finnish border after Helsinki’s possible accession to the North Atlantic Alliance may create new problems, which is not in anyone’s interests, Finland’s Foreign Minister Erki Tuomioja said on Tuesday.
"The border between Finland and Russia is one of the most stable and calm in the world, there are no problems there. Russia thinks the same. And there are no reasons for Russia to want any problems there [in the border area]. However, NATO’s presence at this border may have such effect. I personally do not think that NATO plans to attack [Russia], but such an opinion exists in Russia, and we should take it into account. We don’t want any difficulties," Tuomioja said.
Finland remains part of the Western world and acts in line with the decisions taken by the West, however they are not directed against Russia, the foreign minister stressed. "We are part of EU, take part in the implementation of jointly adopted decisions, in particular on sanctions [against Russia], but not because we want to inflict long-term damage on Russia, but with the aim of facilitating ceasefire in Ukraine in accordance with the agreements reached in Minsk," Tuomioja noted.
Accession to NATO may be put up for vote
On February 28, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said the issue of Finland’s possible accession to NATO will be put up for referendum. "We had a referendum on [Finland’s] accession to the EU. In this case, we are talking about the issue of a similar scale," Niinisto said.
He expressed hope that the new Finnish government that comes to power after parliamentary election in April will not include in its program the point on excluding accession to NATO. "In any case, I hope it [the new government] will not exclude the possibility altogether," the president noted.
The incumbent authorities’ program includes a point that states that Finland will not file for accession to NATO in the period of the current government’s service. Niiniste told the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter that the situation in Finland shows that the country’s accession to NATO will not happen any time soon.
"The latest public opinion poll showed that only 26% of Finns are for accession to NATO, while 43% are against. To make such a decision, we also need at least two-thirds of votes in the parliament. These are facts. Moreover, the current situation shows that many people in the West are saying that filing for accession [to NATO] now is not very wise," the president concluded.
First published by TASS.
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