In an interview with EURACTIV, Finnish Green MEP, Alviina Alametsä said that a majority in parliament and the public in her country are now in favour of NATO membership, for which it hopes to have “some signals and symbols of support during a possible membership application”.
“I think that the risk of being attacked by Russia is far greater if we stay outside of NATO than if we apply for membership”, said Alametsä, who is also a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament.
According to her, the threat of a direct attack seems low at the moment as “Russian assets are tied in Ukraine”, but such attacks could happen in the future if Finland stayed out of NATO, “maybe in the next ten years” she added.
“With the situation going on in Ukraine, we have noticed that there is no possibility to trust [Russian President] Vladimir Putin and that he will do whatever he wants with no rationality whatsoever,” she said, illustrating the ever more profound mistrust of Finland toward its neighbour.
But Finland is not Ukraine, Alametsä says. The recent UK and US security guarantees mentioned by Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet on 25 April could offer the country much welcome support during the application process.
“It’s important that Finland gets some signals and symbols of support during a possible membership application because that decreases the chance of Russian aggression on Finland,” Alametsä said, adding that such aggression could take many forms.
“By aggression, I do not mean only traditional warfare, but it can be something else, like hybrid warfare that could target Finland during the membership application”, she said.
Asked about the guarantees that Article 42 of the European Treaty could offer, the so-called “mutual defence assistance clause”, she highlighted the importance of an EU-NATO “combination”.
“I think the terms of Article 42 are still a bit too undefined”, Alametsä said, adding that for now, Finland needs “a combination of that, and then, if possible, to be accepted in NATO”.
The latest official Russian threat toward Sweden and Finland came on 20 April, when Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova stated that Russia had “issued all warnings both publicly and through bilateral channels”. “They [Sweden and Finland] know about it, they will have nothing to be surprised about, they were informed about everything, and what will it lead to,” she said.
It seems, however, that the Russian threats produced the opposite effect among the Finnish population and in the Finnish parliament.
“There has been a shift after the Russian attack, and now the majority of the members of Finnish parliament support a NATO membership, as does the Finnish population,” Alametsä said.
“I hope that the Finnish parliament will apply this spring. This could be possible in May, depending, of course, on what the parliament will decide,” she said.
Therefore, much is bound to happen in May as in neighbouring Sweden, the Social Democrats in power stated last week through party secretary Tobias Baudin that a decision on the NATO issue could be taken by the party board sometime around mid-May.
“Of course, I hope that Sweden will join Finland in this,” Alametsä said, adding that “Finland should apply nevertheless” and not wait for the Swedish decision.
[Edited by Daniel Eck/Alexandra Brzozowski/Alice Taylor]