The war in Ukraine meant pressure for the Nordic country to position itself in geopolitical terms
the president of Finland, Sauli Niinistand the prime minister, sanna marinissued a joint statement on May 12 in which they simply supported, together, the entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The reason, says the official text: “Being a member of NATO will strengthen the security of Finland.” In just two paragraphs, it is well understood how this process has been experienced in the country, in a way consistent with the Finnish spirit: dialogue and debatebut making decisions when it is considered that the time has come.
“During the spring,” the statement begins, “an important debate has developed over Finland’s possible entry into NATO.” To facilitate the debate, sufficient space for dialogue was given to all parties. The statement concludes by saying that “now that the time to decide is near, we verify our joint position for the information of the parliamentary groups and the parties.”
From January 2022 to today, the percentage of support for joining NATO among the population has tripled; the latest surveys mention an amazing 76%. This very rapid change of position in a people that likes to think about things a lot has occurred as a response to factors external to the country itself. As Niinist explained on Wednesday May 11 at the press conference with the president of United Kingdom, Boris Johnsonthe NATO entry decision process was initiated by the change in position of Russia in the last few months. Russia traditionally claimed that the security of the baltic sea it was much more stable by having as few NATO member countries as possible.
Finland and Sweden, therefore, they have not aligned themselves during the last 30 years of their own free will, but being aware that with this they enlarged the great neighbor. It was understood the importance of maintain friendly relations with Russia for reasons of trade, history and proximity.
In this context, most Finns have maintained a desire for neutrality clear during the past decades, without a doubt an expression of the fact that for them peace and tranquility are primordial values. However, when Russia told Sweden and Finland in December that they could not join NATO, it seemed to imply that the country had no will of its own. “This,” Niinist commented, “got us thinking.” The attack on Ukraine on February 24 confirmed in fact that change in Russia. In this sense, Mika Aaltola, director of the Finnish Institute of Foreign Policy, warned from the outset of the danger of relying on a supposed “exception situation” that would favor Finland over other countries.
Niinist, a man recognized in the country for his prudence, has been from the first moment a reference for the population in the changes that were taking place. Marin, despite his youth, has also helped with his good work to transmit serenity. From the first days of the attack on Ukraine, Finland has lived with the certainty that the country’s leaders would make decisions with the long-term future in mind and not just in reaction to the Russian attack. Although the truth is that from the first moment it has been seen that the ukrainian war meant for Finland -with its more than 1,300 kilometers of border with Russia- a pressure to position itself in terms geopolitical and the end of an era, with all that that implies. Some see joining NATO as the lesser of two evils.
Following the usual comparison with Sweden, the Finnish media have highlighted the fact that Finland and Sweden’s move towards NATO has been led by the Finns. As has been written, the country has made eldest brother (iso veli) from Sweden. Greater Djupsund, Emeritus Professor of Political Science, recently commented on the radio that in Finland, when decisions have to be made, they are made, whereas Sweden has a greater culture of debate, which can lead to another debate and another, and so on. . The fact that Marin, of the Social Democratic Party, has supported entry into NATO has also had some impact in Sweden, where members of that party were more reluctant to change the position of neutrality. As is also characteristic of the country, in the last three months all these events have been experienced intensely, but with a very low profile.
On the other hand, at the University of Helsinki Meetings have been organized to provide psychological support to students who need it. The emerging fragility of a suddenly uncertain future has dealt a blow to the Finnish way of life, where planning and security is the rule of thumb. In recent days, some commentator from the country has also suggested that Finland should now take a greater role in supporting Ukraine, following the example of such solidarity from Poland and others.
It is clear that Finland must develop a new international identity from the moment it enters NATO. By the way, that there is a firm resolution in the country not to be intimidated by Russia, turkey or any other country that may disagree with a decision that has already been made and has been carefully considered. During the strong years of the cold warthe president of Finland for more than 25 years, Urho Kekkonen (1900-1986), sailed the Finnish ship always checking the conditions of the wind blowing from moscow.
The sources also show that USA was well aware that Finland had withstood the blow of the Soviet Union during the winter war (1939-1940) and had thus become, by its own merit, a bastion of West. The well-known Emeritus Professor of International Law at the University of Helsinki, Martti Koskenniemi, commented to me the other day that in those years there was in Finnish political life a relatively predictable clarity of a kind of realpolitik from do you des, in which practice the Finns excelled. All that has ended the new era of Putin. The world is changing. And with the entry into NATO, a new panorama opens up for Finland to reinvent itself within the organization and outside it, establishing its new political profile of allies and principles to defend. We see it with optimism.
Monica Garca-Salmones She is a researcher at the Álvaro d’Ors Chair of the Institute of Culture and Society at the University of Navarra and at the Erik Castron Institute of International Law and Human Rights at the University of Helsinki.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism