Helsinki: European Union nations Finland and Sweden reached important stages Wednesday on their way to possible NATO membership as the Finnish government issued a security report to lawmakers and Sweden’s ruling party initiated a review of security policy options.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, speaking Wednesday in Stockholm in a joint news conference with her Swedish counterpart Magdalena Andersson, said Finland is ready to make a decision on NATO “within weeks” rather than months following an extensive debate in the 200-seat Eduskunta legislature.
Finland, a country of 5.5 million, shares the EU’s longest border with Russia, a 1,340-kilometer (833-mile) frontier. Sweden has no border with Russia.
Russia, for its part, has warned Sweden and Finland against joining NATO, with officials saying it would not contribute to stability in Europe. One of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reasons for invading Ukraine was that the country refused to promise that it would not join NATO.
Complicating things in Sweden is the general election in September, which is likely to be dominated by the NATO issue. Andersson said Wednesday that the Swedish government is working on a security environment analysis together with all parties in the 349-seat Riksdag legislature. She said the report is due May 31 but could be finished earlier. In addition, Andersson’s Social Democratic Party has initiated its own separate review of Sweden’s security environment.