Speaking to Yle in Brussels, the Danish NATO leader said it was up to Finland to decide how it wants to develop its collaboration with NATO and this is something Russia should also respect.
The Secretary General disapproved of Russian general Nikolai Makarov’s recent comments that Finland's NATO membership would constitute a threat to Russia.
"We cannot accept such interference in Finnish politics. Finland decides its foreign policy and security matters itself," said Rasmussen, adding that 13 years ago Russia signed the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) agreement declaring that every country has the right to make decisions regarding itself and its alliances.
Rasmussen said he has seen more hard-line rhetoric emerging from Russia recently. This, he feels, is motivated by the need to show strength.
"For me, this shows that the politics of the Kremlin are aimed at displaying power. I think this is an old-fashioned way of thinking, coming from the days of the Cold War. I ask that Russia’s leaders join the present day, and recognise that it is also in Russia's interest to commit to peaceful, positive and constructive cooperation with its neighbours instead of resorting to threats."
‘Finland fulfils all membership criteria’
When asked about his view on possible Finnish NATO membership, Rasmussen says he does not want to influence discussion on the matter in Finland. The Secretary General went as far as saying he saw no obstacles to Finland’s membership.
“Finland fulfils all the criteria for NATO membership, if it should decide to join. Our doors are of course open to countries fulfilling our criteria that want to join us,” Rasmussen noted.
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