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PM: Time not right for Finland’s NATO membership

Speaking on Yle TV1’s morning show Ykkösaamu on Saturday morning, Prime Minister Alexander Stubb says now is not the time to decide on Finland's potential NATO membership. Political and financial turbulence in Russia and the upcoming Finnish elections in the spring are among more pressing issues, and the PM does not have any difference of opinion on Finland's foreign and security policy with the President Sauli Niinistö, says Stubb.

Alexander Stubb Ylen Ykkösaamun vieraana. Image: Ilkka Kemppinen / Yle

Prime Minister Stubb stressed that Finland will decide on NATO membership when the time is right.

“We’ll decide independently, on our own, ” said Stubb, in an interview on Yle TV1's Saturday morning show Ykkösaamu.

The prime ministerial interview follows on the heels of President Sauli Niinistö's meeting with political party chairs on Friday to discuss foreign and security policy with key party representatives. Some believe recent party spats and conflicting agendas spurred the presidential assembly.

Stubb said that he and President Sauli Niinistö share the same stance on Finland's foreign and security policy.

"The President of Finland directs Finland's foreign and security policy together with parliament and the Prime Minister directs Finland's EU politics. The President and I walk hand in hand on Finland's foreign policy, there are not two different political lines," said Stubb.

Stubb a NATO supporter

"I have always been a supporter of NATO membership, but now is not a good time," he said referring to the "current stormy weather." That weather includes the fractions within Finnish politics and the upcoming spring elections in Finland, as well as foreign and security policy issues such as Russia's political and financial difficulties, which are affecting Finland adversely.

"I would not speak of a NATO option – we will make the decision democratically when the time is right,” said Stubb. If Parliament is not able to reach a two-thirds majority consensus on the matter, then the matter will be voted on by the Finnish people,  he said.

Good neighbours

With regards to Russia, where the rouble has lost 15 percent of its value in the last week alone, Stubb said, "It's important that we have good relations with Russia. Its economy is unfortunately in chaos - and for trade and commerce that's especially worrying."

"Russia has not been successful in making necessary changes to update itself. It's leaning on old sources of energy such as fossil fuels and oil. It has fallen behind in the new global economy and is living as though it were still Soviet times, and the economic sanctions brought against Russia have had a negative impact," he said.

"For Finland, this very worrying as Russia is one of our largest trading partners along with Sweden and Germany," said Stubb.

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