Nfter President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin in Finland, Marin’s Social Democrats also spoke out in favor of their country becoming a member of NATO. The party specifically positioned itself to join the defense alliance at an extraordinary governing body meeting on Saturday, the website said. According to the party, 53 of the 60 members of the party leadership voted on Saturday to join. Only five members voted against and two abstained.
Marin told journalists on Saturday that she hopes to submit the application for membership to NATO “together with Sweden” next week. “They have their own procedure, but of course I hope that we will make the decisions at the same time and submit our applications together,” said the Prime Minister.
This marks another decisive step on the country’s path to NATO: with the Social Democrats, a broad majority in the Finnish parliament is in favor of joining NATO. Although the decision on such an application initially lies solely with Niinistö and Marin’s government, parliamentary approval would be required before actual accession.
Niinistö and Marin expressly advocated membership in the military alliance in a joint statement on Thursday. Marin reiterated this in an address to her party’s delegates on Saturday. Russia has shown that it does not respect international agreements, Marin said, according to the public broadcaster “Yle”. She added that there was only one conclusion to draw from this: it was time to join NATO. It is expected that Finland may announce a decision on its NATO membership bid as early as Sunday.
After decades of military alliance neutrality, Sweden and Finland joining NATO would be a turning point for both countries. In particular, Russia responded to the announcement by its neighbor Finland with criticism and threats. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia would “definitely” see Finland’s NATO membership as a threat.
On Saturday, Finnish President Niinistö called Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss his country’s plans to join NATO. Niinistö said the “direct and honest” phone call was to “avoid tension.”
Turkey demands negotiations with Sweden and Finland
The Kremlin said after the phone call that Putin had “underlined to Niinistö that ending the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake as there is no threat to Finland’s security”.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey, regardless of its criticism of Finland and Sweden, is not closing the door on their NATO accession. But Turkey wants negotiations with both countries, the spokesman said. Sweden in particular allows the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), which is banned in Turkey, to act. This affects Turkey’s national security interests. Erdogan said on Friday that he could not agree to NATO membership for Sweden and Finland, for which Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, among others, had criticized him at the G-7 foreign ministers’ meeting in Weissenhaus. All NATO members would have to agree to Finland’s admission, including Turkey.