Finland's president opposed to NATO membership

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto has said that his country, balancing between Russia and the West, should not join NATO.

Source: Tanjug

Niinisto maintains this position despite the Ukrainian crisis and calls from some Finnish politicians for the country to become a part of the western military alliance.

"It is very obvious that if Finland joins NATO, that would undoubtedly harm our relations (with Russia). You have to keep in mind that 1,300 kilometers is a long, long border, and you just don’t keep it closed. On the contrary, it’s a living border," he told the Washington Post.

Asked "how he regarded Russian violations of Finnish airspace this summer," the country's foreign minister, Erkki Tuomioja, said:

"We have a 1,300-kilometer border between Russia and Finland. From our point of view, but also from a Russian point of view, it’s the most stable and least problematic frontier they have, and I believe they want to keep it that way as long as they have no reason to believe that the Finnish territory would be used for hostile action. That’s the basis of our position since the second World War."

Asked whether there was "a broader strategic objective on Russia’s part," President Niinisto said that due to "increased international tensions" the Russians "want to show, 'we are here'."

The paper quoted Finland's prime minister as saying his country should have joined NATO 20 years ago. Asked whether he agreed, Niinisto said:

"It would have been a very easy step. Russia was very weak at that time."

Speaking about the western sanctions and Russia's counter measures, he said:

"The sanctions themselves and the counter-sanctions, if you just look at what impact they have had, it surely isn’t a very big one. But the sanctions mean that the business environment gets cautious. That has meant a weakening ruble. That has meant weakening (Russian) GDP. That has meant the purchasing power of ordinary people has been eroded, and that has meant something for Finnish exports and not as many Russian tourists coming to do their weekly shopping in Finland."


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