The Parliament of Finland has endorsed with a large majority the proposal of the president and the Government of the Nordic country to apply for NATO membership. A total of 188 deputies have voted in favor; eight, against; and three have not been present during the parliamentary session. The approval of the Legislative was the last procedure necessary for Helsinki to be able to formally request — together with Sweden, which on Monday made its intention to be part of the Alliance — adherence to the transatlantic organization. Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and the five-party coalition Executive announced on Sunday their intention to join NATO.
On Monday, a marathon day was held in the Finnish Parliament -of more than 14 hours- in which practically the 200 deputies of the Chamber participated. There were few voices against accession, although several representatives of different political formations urged to demand that the deployment of nuclear weapons in their territory not be allowed in the future. Unlike Sweden, where the Left and the Green Party have maintained their position against joining the military bloc until the end, all the parliamentary formations in Helsinki had announced in recent weeks that they would endorse joining NATO in the face of the new situation of security generated after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Even so, several deputies from different parties have chosen to personally show their rejection of integration into the organization founded in 1949. The president of the Chamber, Matti Vanhanen, could not vote in the session.
Early this Tuesday, the Nordic country’s Foreign Affairs Committee met to analyze the parliamentary debate of the previous day and decide if it supported the proposal of the head of state and the government led by the social democrat Sanna Marin to be part of the Atlantic Alliance. “After having listened to several experts on the matter and having received the opinion of a dozen parliamentary committees, we are ready to announce that Finland must apply for NATO membership,” Jussi Halla-aho said at a press conference. chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and member of the Finns Party, a far-right formation. “Finland’s security has been considerably affected by Russia’s aggression against a neighboring country. Staying out of NATO would imply risks that we should not assume”, summarizes the report that Halla-aho read at the beginning of the parliamentary session on Tuesday.
Halla-aho has pointed out that he did not consider it necessary for the formal application to join the Alliance to include reservations to exclude the possibility of Finland harboring nuclear weapons in the future, as Sweden is expected to demand when applying to join NATO, and as Canada, Norway, Denmark or Iceland once claimed when joining the organization. The president of the Foreign Affairs Committee has stressed that he does not believe that the possibility of deploying atomic weapons in Finnish territory is an option that the Atlantic Alliance considers, and has recalled that the current legislation of the Nordic country on nuclear energy does not allow it.
Unlike Finland, in neighboring Sweden it was not necessary to hold a vote in Parliament to approve the application for NATO membership, although a parliamentary debate did take place on Monday in which the leaders of six of the eight formations with representation in the Assembly were in favor of the proposal. Only ecologists and ex-communists (who account for just over 10% of the seats) showed their rejection of being part of the Alliance. The Swedish Social Democratic Party, which governs in a minority, on Sunday reversed its position against being part of a military organization, defended for more than seven decades.
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Both Sweden and Finland ruled out weeks ago the option of holding a referendum to give the green light to joining NATO. The polls in both countries show that after Russia’s aggression against Ukraine there has been a profound shift in public opinion in favor of joining the Atlantic Alliance, despite the fact that at the end of last year support was very minority in the two Nordic countries.