Finns are ready to align militarily with their western neighbour, Sweden. That’s the message from a new poll carried out for Yle by Taloustutkimus.
The survey asked whether people would support a union under which the armed forces of one country would be called on to support the other in a crisis situation. Some 54 percent said they would support such a union, 36 percent opposed it and 10 percent said they did not know.
Support for a military alliance with Sweden crossed party boundaries, with only supporters of the Christian Democrats opposing the move. Green voters were the most positive about the mooted defence pact.
Taloustutkimus interviewed 1,000 people between 17-20 March. The margin of error is +/- 3 percent.
Defence Minister Carl Haglund told Yle that he found the survey results interesting. The minister says that Finland is already developing co-operation with armed forces across the Gulf of Bothnia, but that the work is not currently aimed at any kind of military alliance.
Military alliances "shouldn't be ruled out"
“It creates the conditions, if we know each other better,” said Haglund, who says he will announce further details of the defence planning in the spring. “If one day we decide to start deeper, political co-operation, then the conditions are a lot better.”
At present Finland is hoping to jointly negotiate defence procurement to try and push prices down. If both countries own the same types of equipment that increases the possibilities of defence co-operation, but Haglund said now was not yet the time for that.
“Military alliances should not be ruled out, but that is not the issue at hand,” said Haglund.
Recent events in Ukraine have intensified a long-running debate in Finland over security policy and the possibility of joining Nato. Finland’s traditionally non-aligned stance has ensured it is not required to help any other countries militarily.