Finnish Parliament To Start NATO Membership Debate “Within Weeks”

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin has said that a debate in Finland’s parliament on possible NATO membership will take place “within weeks, not within months”, although she declined to provide a more detailed timetable.

Marin’s comments were made ahead of a Wednesday afternoon meeting with her Swedish counterpart Magdalena Andersson in Stockholm. At a joint press conference prior to the meeting, Marin said that it would be good if Finland and Sweden made similar decisions on NATO membership on the same schedule. However, she emphasized that both countries would be making the decision independent of each other, and that while they were trying to be at the “same speed” when deciding, it was not a prerequisite for future steps.

Both prime ministers said at the press conference that Finland and Sweden would continue to engage in close dialogue on the possibility of joining NATO, stressing that any decisions made would affect regional security and thus required thorough consideration. While Marin has previously said that Finland meets the prerequisites and can quickly decide on NATO membership, she noted that there is a need to reach as broad a consensus as possible on potential membership.

At the press conference, Andersson declined to directly comment on reporting by the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet that Stockholm would be submitting an application to join NATO at the end of June. Andersson noted that Swedish parliamentary elections will be taking place in September, saying that there was no reason to delay the membership decision as the election campaign would then become the focus of efforts.

Swedish government recording of the livestreamed press conference

On the same day as the press conference, the Finnish government also presented to parliament its report on changes in regional security following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While the report does not explicitly endorse or oppose Finnish membership of NATO, the report states that Finnish and Swedish membership would enhance the long-term stability of the Baltic, as NATO’s mutual security guarantees would raise the threshold of regional use of military force. While the report warns that it would be difficult to predict Russian responses in the event Helsinki submits a membership request, it also claims that not joining NATO is likely to narrow Finland’s future room for maneuver.