Finnish President Confirms His Country Will Join NATO PHOTO/Reuters
Moscow, which shares a 1,300km border with Finland, said joining the transatlantic alliance would be a mistake for Helsinki. Moscow also said the move would damage bilateral relations.
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Sweden is also expected to follow suit, as public support for membership has grown amid security concerns.
Sunday’s announcement came after Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Thursday that they both favored NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) membership, giving the country the green light to apply.
“Today, we, the president and the government’s Foreign Policy Committee, have jointly decided that Finland will apply for NATO membership,” Niinisto told reporters at the presidential palace in Helsinki.
Niinisto called Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday to inform him of Finland’s plans to join the alliance. And, Putin said, such a move would damage Russian-Finnish relations.
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“I, or Finland, are unknown to sneak up and quietly disappear around the corner. It’s better to say directly what has been said, also to the relevant parties and that’s what I want to do,” he said of his call on Sunday.
The Finnish president expressed his readiness to hold talks with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan, after Ankara raised objections to the Nordic countries joining NATO.
As a member of NATO, Turkey can veto their application. Niinisto said he was “a little confused” about what he said was a change in Turkey’s attitude. “What we need now is a very clear answer, I am ready for a new discussion with President Erdoan about the issues he raises,” he said.