"We are still in touch and our border with Russia is a fact. It remains to be seen how Russia will react to the likely change in Finland’s security policy." Hautala said of Finland’s possible NATO application. "Right now, the relationship is in a kind of twilight."
Hautala told Yle that Finland is living in an exceptional time.
"It is probably a good idea for everyone to recognize that we are living in an exceptional time, a danger of years. But instead of worrying and thinking about worst-case scenarios, we need to keep our eyes on the ball, that is, pay attention to our own actions," he explained.
Hautala: The US supports Finland’s NATO candidacy
As the US ambassador, Hautala plays a key role in communicating Finland’s position to American decision-makers.
Finland’s application to join NATO must be approved by all 30 current member states. In the United States, ratification requires a two-thirds majority in the U.S. Senate.
"Both parties have strong support for Finland’s NATO membership." said Hautala.
From the point of view of the USA, it was important that Finland was not considered as such "helpless" in terms of his own defense, according to Hautala.
"My strong defense is crucial. We provide our own security and we are by no means helpless… this is a good starting point. We also have one of the strongest democracies in the world and the least corruption. These are things that mean a lot to a country like the United States."
In Finland, the public debate has recently focused on the security guarantees of a possible membership process.
"Finland would receive political and military support from both NATO and its member states in the application process. It would make no sense to invite countries into the application process and then leave them in their own hands," he said.
Foreign minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) told Helsingin Sanomat on Saturday that Finland would have sufficient foreign security guarantees in the period between a possible application for NATO and full membership.
Haavisto said these guarantees would be maximized without NATO members invoking Article 5, which states that an attack on one is an attack on all.
Likely to affect campaigns
Hautala, who had previously served as Finland’s ambassador to Russia, said he was surprised that the country had not launched an extensive disinformation campaign against Finland in the light of the ongoing NATO debate.
"I suspect this is due to the fact that Russia’s focus is elsewhere, or it is because a massive campaign would not matter here or it would just feed Finland’s NATO aspirations." he said and stressed that the current blackmail campaigns in Moscow are aimed at influencing the Russian public.
According to Hautala, however, Finland should expect Russia to try to influence Finnish public opinion and that ordinary citizens should also be aware of this.
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Source: The Nordic Page