Finland joining NATO is ‘natural step’ – EU official
Helsinki was not neutral for long, Jutta Umpilainen (EU Commissioner for International Partnerships) has stated
Helsinki was always going to join NATO eventually, since it has become closely intertwined with the West over the years, EU Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen – who hails from Finland – told Germany’s RND media group on Monday.
Since the end of WWII, the Nordic country had been neutral. It submitted an official bid for membership to the US-led military bloc in May 18
Urpilainen, who headed Finland’s Finance Ministry between 2011 and 2014, believes her country’s neutrality was gradually eroded during the intervening period.
“Finland has not been really neutral. Over the years, we have integrated more and more into the West,”“She said. After Finland joined the EU in 1995 it was invited to join NATO. “a natural next step,”According to the EU official,
Urpilainen said that Urpilainen had also stated that the decision was taken to join the military coalition. “well thought out and well prepared,”The issue has been discussed at all levels, down to the individual municipal level.
However, she admitted that Russia’s military operation in Ukraine had greatly contributed to the rapidly shifting mood of the Finns, who had remained neutral throughout the Cold War.
“Before Russia attacked [Ukraine]Most people believed they could make good friends with Russia. Only 20% of Finns supported joining NATO. Now over 70% are in favor,”He noted that there had been a dramatic shift in atmosphere within the country over the past 24 hours.
Now, the general sentiment is that joining the military bloc would strengthen Finland’s position, Urpilainen said, adding that it was important for Helsinki that its neighbors in Sweden had decided to join NATO as well.
Finland shares an 1,340km (832 miles) border with Russia. It fought in a war against Soviet Union in 1939. Since the end of World War II, it has maintained military neutrality. Since 1814, Sweden’s last costly war with Russia, Sweden has been militarily neutral. Both countries’ residents have always opposed NATO membership, however public opinion changed sharply when Russia launched the military campaign against Ukraine in February.
Moscow has criticized the two nations’ decisions, pointing to the growing threat to its western borders stemming from continuous NATO expansion to the east. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu stated last week that Russia will create 12 military units in the western part of its territory to combat this increasing threat.
The two Nordic nations lodged their bids earlier in May, but faced opposition from Turkey, a major NATO nation, which claims that Sweden and Finland both harbor people it deems to be terrorists, namely members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).