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Kanerva: NATO Decision "a Matter for Finland Alone"

Finland's Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva has emphasized that any decision on NATO membership was a matter for Finland alone. He added, though, the bilateral treaty between Finland and Russia should be noted when drawing up a new defence policy review.

Kanerva's comments are the latest in a debate over whether a bilateral treaty signed between Finland and Russia in 1992 could prevent possible future Finnish membership of NATO.

Speaking to YLE Morning TV on Friday, the Foreign Minister reminded his audience that in 1973 it was argued the old Cold War treaty between Finland and the former Soviet Union prevented a free trade deal with the EEC. Kanerva noted that such an agreement was made anyhow.

He added the deal back in the seventies had been concluded without new negotiations or backsliding on other treaty obligations.

However, the Foreign Minister thought the current bilateral Finnish-Russian treaty would be considered when Finland draws up a new defence policy review. In his view, it was essential that Finland adhered to policies that served the country's best interests.

Kanerva's comments came just a day after talks in Moscow with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

After the talks, Lavrov compared the enlargement of NATO with the Cold War. In his view, further enlargement would be artificial, because there should be no dividing lines in Europe any more.

Lavrov added Russia does not see NATO enlargement as necessary.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Baltic Countries, and a number of other former Warsaw Pact countries have joined NATO. Ukraine and Georgia are currently planning to join the alliance.


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