Most Fins reject NATO membership despite Ukraine crisis

Source:Xinhua Published: 2014-3-24 21:57:19

A heated debate on the defense and security policy in Finland is underway currently. NATO membership, which is a long discussed topic in Finland, has become a core issue.

A recent survey conducted by the Finnish leading news and picture agency Lehtikuva showed that, the supporting rate of joining NATO stood at 22 percent, increased by four percent in a week following the Ukraine crisis.

Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen stressed that Finland has always kept NATO membership open as an option, even though it does not belong to the alliance.

Some specialists threatened that Finland will not be safe without NATO membership, saying that the EU membership and NATO partnership do not guarantee the security of Finland.

In addition to the voices in the domestic environment, some outside agitators pushed the attitude forward.

In a Nordic defense ministers' discussion, Norwegian Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide expressed her hope that both Finland and Sweden join NATO.

Moreover, Robert Orttung, assistant director of George Washington University's Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, claimed that the Ukrainian crisis has changed the world order.

However, Arto Nokkala, adjunct professor at the National Defense University of Finland, does not agree with Orttung. "Finland is not Ukraine," he argued.

"It is important to know that the membership would not be a solution to improve Finland's defense capability," said Nokkala, adding that "Finland takes care of its own territory, and does not give it to any great power for use against any other group of states."

Nokkala pointed out that enough popular support would be required if Finland joins NATO in the future.

President of Finland Sauli Niinisto has also stated that a referendum would be needed if Finland considers NATO membership. Nevertheless, "NATO is not a current issue," said Niinisto.

Despite the increasing support for NATO membership recently, majority of Finns reject the idea of joining NATO.

A poll carried out by the Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat in February showed that majority of Finns persistently reject Finland's NATO membership, as well as the formation of EU common defense and Finland-Sweden defense alliance.

In addition, majority of members of the Finnish parliament also expressed negative views about Finland's joining NATO, according to a recent survey conducted by another Finnish language newspaper Ilta-Sanomat.

The public opinions, therefore, show that Finland's NATO membership is not a realistic choice, even under the shadow of the current Ukraine crisis.

Many Finnish political and military leaders believe that Finland does not face any direct threat.

"The problem is between Russia and Ukraine, not between Russia and Finland," declared General Ari Puheloinen, Finland's chief of Defence.

Posted in: Europe

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