Finland President Niinisto confirms NATO membership

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Finland President Niinisto confirms NATO membership

Finland's President Sauli Niinisto confirmed on Sunday that he would apply for membership of the NATO military alliance in a historic policy shift prompted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow, which shares a 1,300 km 800 mile border with Finland, said that it would be a mistake for Helsinki to join the 30 strong transatlantic alliance and that it would harm bilateral ties.

Sunday's announcement came after Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Thursday they both favoured NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization membership, giving a green light for the country to apply.

Today, the president and the foreign policy committee have decided that Finland will apply for NATO membership, Niinisto told reporters in the presidential palace in Helsinki.

Niinisto called Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday to tell him of Finland's plans to join the alliance. Putin said such a move would hurt Russian-Finnish relations.

I, or Finland, isn't known to sneak around and disappear behind a corner. It is better to say what already has been said, also to the concerned party, and that is what I wanted to do, he said on Sunday.

After Ankara raised objections to the Nordic countries joining NATO, the Finnish president expressed readiness to hold talks with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey has the right to veto their applications as a NATO member.

Niinisto said he was a bit confused about what he said was a shift in Turkey's position. What we need to do is a clear answer, and we are prepared to have a new discussion with President Erdogan about the problems he has raised.