Finnish parliament’s defence committee recommends NATO membership

The recommendation comes ahead of Finland’s official decision on whether to join the transatlantic military alliance.

Finland's President Sauli Niinisto is expected to announce on Thursday his stance on joining NATO [File: Dado Ruvic/Illustration/Reuters]

The defence committee of Finland’s parliament has said joining NATO is the best option for Finland to guarantee its national security.

The recommendation came on Tuesday, ahead of Finland’s official decision on whether to join the transatlantic military alliance in the coming days.

Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto is expected to announce on Thursday his stance on joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a move that would mean a significant shift in security policy for the Nordic country in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Finland, which shares a 1,300 km (810-mile) border and a difficult past with neighbouring Russia, is reconsidering its longstanding position to refrain from joining NATO in order to maintain friendly relations with its eastern neighbour.

Finland’s membership in NATO would significantly increase the deterrent for becoming a target of Russia’s aggression, the defence committee concluded in a statement.

“Membership in NATO is the best solution for Finland’s security. It strengthens Finland’s national defence capability with the support of the union’s significant military resources,” the committee’s chairman and main opposition leader Petteri Orpo of the National Coalition party said.

The parliament’s defence committee provided its view on the matter in response to the government’s white paper update of its foreign and security policy.

Sweden’s dilemma

Neighbouring Sweden is also considering joining NATO. Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats will decide on May 15 whether to overturn decades of opposition to NATO membership.

The Social Democrats – the biggest party in Sweden for the last 100 years – are holding three digital party meetings this week to canvas members’ opinions on NATO membership ahead of the final decision by the leadership at the weekend.

A formal application to join NATO could be made at the alliance’s June summit in Madrid and is likely to be fast-tracked, though getting the signatures of all 30 alliance members could take up to a year.

Source: News Agencies