Finland to join NATO military alliance this week, says alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg
The NATO Secretary-General said that Turkey, the last country to have ratified Finland’s membership, will hand its official texts to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on April 4
Stoltenberg said that Turkey, the last country to have ratified Finland’s membership, will hand its official texts to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
Finnish voters have given a boost to conservative parties in a weekend election, depriving left-wing Prime Minister Sanna Marin of another term as the country prepares to make its historic entry into Nato in the coming days.
Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday Finland will become the 31st member of the world’s biggest military alliance on Tuesday, and that he hopes its neighbour Sweden can join in coming months. “This is a historic week,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels.
“From tomorrow, Finland will be a full member of the alliance.” The former Norwegian prime minister said on Tuesday afternoon, “we will raise the Finnish flag for the first time here at the Nato headquarters. It will be a good day for Finland’s security, for Nordic security, and for Nato as a whole.” Stoltenberg said.
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen will attend the ceremony, along with Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto.
Marin won popularity for her Cabinet’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and for her EU nation’s strong support for Ukraine following Russia’s full-scale invasion last year.
But Sunday’s election was largely fought over economic issues, with voters in the nation of 5.5 million people shifting their allegiances significantly to parties on the political right as they seek solutions to rising state debt, inflation and other economic problems.
The bloated debt will pose a challenge for the new government, particularly since Nato membership will require Finland to increase its defense spending.
The centre-right National Coalition Party, or NCP, won 20.8 per cent of the vote, which is more than any other party and puts it in a position to try to form a government. The right-wing populist party The Finns won 20.1 per cent and Marin’s Social Democrats 19.9 per cent.
The winning party in Finland traditionally kicks off government formation talks, and National Coalition led by Petteri Orpo — a 53-year-old former finance minister — is expected to start negotiations next week with the goal of putting together a Cabinet enjoying a majority in the 200-seat parliament, the Eduskunta.
Orpo told the AP late Sunday that he intends to negotiate with all parties in order “to find the best possible majority government for Finland”.
If Orpo, the most likely candidate to be the next prime minister, ends up choosing the Social Democrats as a coalition partner, that could mean Marin could theoretically get a post — albeit not the prime minister’s job — in the next government.
Finnish media touted the The Finns, which ran on an anti-immigration and anti-EU agenda, as the biggest winner of the election. The populists scored the best result of their history under the leadership of Riikka Purra, who took over the party only in 2021.
Orpo has said his party is open to cooperation with The Finns as the two parties largely share views on developing Finland’s economy though have differences in climate policies and EU issues.
The biggest losers of the election were small and mid-size parties.