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Kaikkonen: Finland remains shoulder-to-shoulder with Sweden in Nato process

Turkey has been blocking Finland and Sweden's path toward Nato, but is particularly opposed to Swedish membership.

Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen (Cen) was interviewed on Yle's morning chat show on Thursday. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle
Yle News

According to Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen (Cen), Finland remains steadfastly alongside neighbour Sweden in the Nato application process.

"As we started the Nato project with our close partner Sweden, we will forge this path forward together. We have no other plans. We are striving to get the job done together until it is completed, as originally planned," Kaikkonen told Yle on Thursday morning.

Membership requires unanimous approval from all 30 member states. All but Turkey and Hungary have now ratified the two countries' bids.

The minister added that simultaneous Nato membership for Finland and Sweden is crucial for national defence.

Turkey has been standing in the way of the two Nordic countries' Nato path, seeing Swedish membership in particular as a problem.

On Tuesday, the director of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Mika Aaltola, said in an interview with the daily Ilta-Sanomat that Finnish leaders should consider how Finland would react if Turkey decides to accept Finland as a Nato member, but not Sweden.

Nuclear weapons unlikely to be based in Finland

According to Kaikkonen, defence officials are weighing various options regarding Nato's possible presence in Finland once the country joins the alliance.

Nato membership does not oblige Finland to accept nuclear weapons, permanent bases or troops on its territory. According to Kaikkonen, the Nato presence would have to be justified from the points of view of both the alliance and Finland.

"Most importantly, it should strengthen Finland's security. The time for these decisions will come later. At the moment, the most important thing is to get the membership itself to the finish line," he said.

Kaikkonen pointed out that Nato has not established permanent bases in or redeployed nuclear weapons to any member countries in this millennium.

Kaikkonen said that Finland must accept that nuclear weapons are part of the alliance's defence and deterrence architecture but added that he does not believe that they would be placed on Finnish soil.

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