Helsinki: The Finnish government has submitted to parliament a report on changes to Finland’s foreign and security policy environment following the Ukraine crisis.
The report submitted on Wednesday is a framework for a broader debate on foreign, security, and defence policy, and includes an assessment of how Finland can boost national defence capability and international defence cooperation, as well as the effects of possible NATO membership, Xinhua news agency reported.
National broadcaster Yle said although the report is the basis for a discussion on NATO in the coming weeks, it will not lead to a parliamentary vote, only a communication.
The issue will then be referred back to the government and President.
On Wednesday, President Sauli Niinisto said Finland’s decision on NATO membership would be taken before the summer.
Niinisto told the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat that the report provides crucial information to decision-makers.
However, the final decision on membership will fall to the President.
He warned against delays in the decision-making process, saying that the fate of Finland and Sweden was being used as a political football.
Russia’s possible reaction is another reason to speed up the process, he added.
Public support for Finnish membership of NATO has surged in Finland since late February. In Finnish media polls, around 60 per cent supported accession, while this week over half of the members of parliament backed NATO membership.
Finnish Prime Minister (PM) Sanna Marin and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson also discussed NATO membership in Stockholm on Wednesday.
The Finnish government’s report estimates that the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO would increase stability in the Baltic Sea region.
Meanwhile, Marin said on Wednesday that Finland’s decision on its membership of NATO would come within weeks.
Sweden and Finland have intensified their military cooperation with each other, and with NATO in recent years. Although both countries have emphasised their autonomy in making security policy decisions, they have also expressed their desire to move in tandem regarding potential NATO membership.
The Finnish PM said there were risks involved in both applying for membership, and in not doing so.
Meanwhile, President Niinisto said on Wednesday said “it would be best for Finland and Sweden to decide jointly and find the same path.”
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Monday reiterated his claim that further NATO expansion will not bring stability to the European continent.