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Opposition to NATO Membership Remains High

A new poll shows the public's opposition to NATO membership remains high, while growing numbers are in favour of increased funding for the nation's own defence forces.

The TNS Gallup poll commissioned by the Advisory Board for Defence Information shows that about a quarter of the Finnish population are in favour of NATO membership, while 65 percent of respondents expressed opposition to joining NATO.

While these figures have remained fairly steady over the past year, there has been a rise in opposition to Finland taking part in NATO-led crisis management operations. Last year, a similar poll found that 30% oppose the participation of Finnish troops in NATO-led operations. That figure now is at 44%.

More traditional forms of international action received much greater support. A full 74% of those interviewed take a favourable view of the use of Finnish troops as a part of the United Nations peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon.

However, confidence in the nation ability to defend itself in an armed conflict has fallen. Now, just under half believe that Finland could put up an effective defence, as compared to 58% just two years ago.

The survey also showed that increasing numbers of Finns would like to see the military better funded. While a year ago 31% said they would back a bigger defence budget, in this poll, that figure was up to 44%.

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