Government report: The accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO would increase security in the Baltic Sea region

Government report: The accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO would increase security in the Baltic Sea region

The government has provided a detailed report to Parliament "fundamental changes" in the foreign and security policy environment following the Russian invasion of Ukraine as part of a process expected to lead to a decision to join NATO or not.

The publication of the report has been widely regarded as the beginning of an official debate on Finland’s possible military membership.

The report outlines the benefits of joining NATO, which include security guarantees and increased co-operation between member states, as well as the risks that are mainly related to Russia’s reaction to Finland’s possible accession initiatives.

The biggest advantage is the increase in the cost of any military action paid by Russia in the region.

"With the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO, the threshold for the use of military force in the Baltic Sea region would rise, which would increase the region’s long-term stability." says the report.

In an official statement in response to the publication of the report, the chairman Sauli Niinistö said such important decisions require "in-depth analysis".

"The publication of the report will launch a parliamentary phase during which Parliament will consider the report. We must now take a clear course towards Finland. This is a matter for Finland’s own security. It doesn’t hurt anyone," Niinistö said.

The Foreign Minister spoke at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon Pekka Haavisto (Green) emphasized that the report did not contain any conclusions or set out new security policy guidelines.

"The purpose of this report is to enable Parliament to take part in a wide-ranging and in-depth debate on foreign, security and defense policy." Haavisto explained.

He added that half of the report deals with foreign security and defense policy issues, while the other half looks at the economic impact, security of supply and Finland’s degree of readiness.

The report calls for a Russian invasion of Ukraine a "blatantly violates international law and jeopardizes the security and stability of Europe as a whole"to which Haavisto also referred at the press conference.

"The security situation in Europe and Finland is more serious and more difficult to predict than ever since the end of the Cold War. The changes are expected to take a long time," Haavisto said, but added that Finland has sought to maintain bilateral relations with Russia within the limits allowed by the sanctions.

Finland is preparing to strengthen security

Haavisto, who led the coordination group set up by the government to prepare the report, said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon that it would assess the effects of possible NATO membership on Finland and also describe the possible accession process.

In the section titled "Strengthening resilience," The report looks at the potential threat of hybrid attacks in Russia, cyber espionage or other attempts to influence the NATO debate.

"If Finland applies for NATO membership, it must be prepared for extensive advocacy efforts and unpredictable risks, such as increasing tensions on the Finnish-Russian border." The report stated and added that close co-operation between Finland and Sweden will be important.

Finland may also face increased Russian activity on the eastern border, such as military exercises, although the Minister of Defense Antti Kaikkonen (Cen) said Wednesday that the military situation in the region is currently calm.

According to the report, the changed situation requires a reassessment of Finland’s security policy.

"Finland is strengthening its capacity to become the target of large-scale hybrid activities and to prevent and respond to advocacy efforts."

Foreign Minister Haavisto reiterated this position when speaking to reporters on Wednesday afternoon.

"Finland will continue active and proactive diplomacy, strengthen its security and defense capabilities, and intensify its long-term co-operation with key partners. Finland makes its foreign and security policy decisions independently." Haavisto said.

Marin: NATO decision “in weeks, not months”

prime minister Sanna Marin (SDP) met with his Swedish counterpart Magdalena Andersson In Stockholm on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the security situation in Europe following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters before the talks began, Marin said that Finland will probably make a decision on NATO membership within weeks, not months.

"There are different perspectives on whether or not to apply for NATO membership, and we need to analyze them very carefully." Marin said and added that process "is pretty fast, it happens within weeks".

In response to a reporter’s question about how quickly opinions about NATO membership had changed in Finland, Marin pointed out the impact of the Russian war on Ukraine.

"Of course, everything changed when Russia invaded Ukraine. I think the way people think, in Finland, including Sweden, changed and changed very dramatically," Marin said.

Source: The Nordic Page

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