Finnish government submits report to parliament on changes to NATO policy

Finnish government submits report to parliament on changes to NATO policy

A picture taken on November 20, 2019 shows the NATO flag at the NATO headquarters in Brussels during NATO Foreign Affairs Ministers' summit. KENZO TRIBOUILLARD AFP HELSINKI - The Finnish government submitted a report to parliament on Wednesday on changes to Finland's foreign and security policy environment after the Ukraine crisis.

The report is a framework for a debate on foreign, security and defense policy, and includes an assessment of how Finland can boost national defense capability and international defense cooperation, as well as the effects of possible NATO membership.

National broadcaster Yle said that the report won't lead to a parliamentary vote, only a communication, despite the fact that it will be the basis for a discussion on NATO in the coming weeks.

The issue will be referred back to the government and the president.

Finland's President Sauli Niinisto reacts to talks with Britain's prime minister at 10 Downing Street, London, on March 15, 2022, following a meeting of the leaders of the Joint Expeditionary Force JEF, a coalition of 10 states focused on security in northern Europe. MATT DUNHAM POOL AFP On Wednesday, President Sauli Niinisto said Finland's decision on NATO membership would be taken before the summer.

Niinisto told Helsingin Sanomat that the report provides crucial information to decision-makers. Niinisto will make the final decision on membership.

He said that the fate of Sweden and Finland was being used as political football and that he warned against delays in the decision-making process.

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Russia's possible reaction is another reason to speed up the process, he added.

In Finland, public support for a Finnish membership of NATO has gone up since February. In Finnish media polls, around 60 percent supported the accession, while over half of the members of parliament backed NATO membership this week.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin pose for photographers ahead of a meeting on April 13, 2022, in Stockholm, Sweden. PAUL WENNERHOLM Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson discussed NATO membership in Stockholm on Wednesday.

The Finnish government estimates that the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO would increase stability in the Baltic Sea region.

On Wednesday, Marin said that Finland's decision on its membership to NATO would come within a few weeks.

Sweden and Finland have intensified their military cooperation with each other, and have increased their cooperation with NATO in recent years. Both countries have expressed their desire to move in tandem regarding potential NATO membership, despite the fact that they have emphasized their autonomy in making security policy decisions.

Marin said there were risks involved in both applying for membership and not doing so.

President Niinisto said on Wednesday that it would be best for Finland and Sweden to decide on the same path. On Monday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov reiterated his claim that further NATO expansion will not bring stability to the European continent.