Marin on Nato: Finland should keep options open

In her New Year's message Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) said Finland can apply for Nato membership if it wants to.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin pictured here in Brussels on 15 December 2021. Image: Lehtikuva

In addition to urging residents to get vaccinated against Covid, Prime Minister Sanna Marin's (SDP) New Year's message emphasised Finland's possibility to apply for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato).

"Finland retains the option of applying for NATO membership," Marin said as Russia has demanded the western alliance halt its eastward expansion.

"We should uphold this freedom of choice and make sure it remains a reality, as this is part of every country's right to decide on its own security policies."

She also said Finland would continue to intensify its European security and defence cooperation.

"It is one of the foundations of European security enshrined in the principles of the OSCE. We have shown that we have learnt from the past. We will not let go of our room for manoeuvre."

Last month, President Sauli Niinistö said NATO membership is between applicants and Nato—not Russia, with Finland retaining the option to join the alliance.

PM: "If you haven't been vaccinated, now is the time"

Marin noted that the pandemic was not over yet and called on residents to get their Covid shots, saying the Omicron variant was a "cause for great concern."

"If you have not yet been vaccinated, now is the time. Getting vaccinated is an act of responsibility and a way to protect yourself, your loved ones and all of society. By getting vaccinated, you can prevent our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed. It is a question of solidarity," she said.

She noted that Finland's management of the pandemic would continue to be a balancing act.

"We must be able to protect people's health and avoid overburdening the healthcare system while also keeping society as open as possible."

With county council elections due this month, Marin also urged people to make sure they vote for the new bodies that will assume responsibility for organising health and social services in the country.

"In the county elections, people will decide on basic services that are important for their everyday lives," she said.