Majority of Finns reject NATO membership

Source:Xinhua Published: 2014-2-24 9:46:19

A survey conducted by Finnish daily Helsinki News shows that the majority of Finns persistently reject Finland's NATO membership, as well as the formation of EU common defense and Finland-Sweden defense alliance.

According to the lately released poll, 64 percent of Finns remain staunchly against NATO membership, while only 18 percent support taking part in the alliance.

In addition, 60 percent of Finns oppose the forming of the so called EU common defense, while only 23 percent are in favor of the idea; 60 percent object a Finland-Sweden defense alliance, while 27 percent support the proposal.

The survey also shows that the majority of supporters of all the major Finnish political parties except National Coalition Party, the ruling party of Finland, are against NATO membership, and the opposing rates vary from 57 percent to 86 percent. Even among the supporters of the pro-NATO National Coalition Party, the supporting rate of NATO membership reduced from 51 percent in 2005 to 38 percent in 2014.

The increase of Swedish support of NATO membership due to the major defense reforms in recent years did not exert impact on Finnish attitude towards NATO.

The survey has also included the public opinions on EU common defense and the Finland-Sweden defense alliance for the second time since 2013, as the two are also heated topics in Finland over recent years. The Finnish public attitudes towards the two military alliance are both negative with 60 percent of opposing rate.

Helsinki News has conducted surveys on the public opinion about Finland's NATO membership for 12 years. Opposition to NATO membership has been seen a long-standing public opinion in Finland. The lowest supporting rate was only 15 percent during the Iraq war in 2003.

"Finns don't want any form of military alliance," said Charly Salonius-Pasternak, researcher from the Finnish Institute of Foreign Affairs.

Salonius-Pasternak regarded the EU common defense as "unrealistic expectation." "It will not happen," he explained, since most of the EU states are NATO members, and they are not interested in change of the current defense situation.

According to Arto Nokkala, adjunct professor from the National Defense University of Finland, the reasons behind Finns' rejection of military alliances can be attributed to multiple factors.

The experience stemming from the World War II and the cold war has taught Finns that "you cannot trust too much on a foreign help, particularly in the time of crisis," said Nokkala. Any defense alliance also would probably threaten the Finnish relations with Russian.

In addition, Finns believe that there has been sufficient cooperation with NATO, EU and Sweden in the field of defense, Nokkala told Xinhua, adding that "such alliances do not bring much added-value to Finland in times of 'real' crises."

The Common Security and Defence Policy is a major element of theCommon Foreign and Security Policyof the EU. It is the successor of theEuropean Security and Defense IdentityunderNATO, but differs in that it falls under the jurisdiction of theEuropean Unionitself, including countries with no ties to NATO.

The proposal of closer defense cooperation between Finland and Sweden, which are the only two non-NATO Nordic countries, was raised by Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and Defense Minister Karin Enstroma in early 2013. The most emphasized measure in the proposal is the "pooling and sharing" of military equipment and supplies. It led a hot debate among both politicians and ordinary people in Finland. EndItem

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