Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said it is the right time for his country to join NATO, local media reported Saturday.
Haavisto said the Russian war on Ukraine and the following events have caused a drastic shift in the European security environment, according to the public broadcaster YLE.
Against this backdrop, Finland was forced to reevaluate its security policy, he said and added, “What worse thing would still happen for Finland to at least consider joining NATO.”
Referring to neighboring Sweden’s bid to join NATO, the foreign minister maintained that it would be useful for the two countries to synchronize their decisions.
However, he reiterated that Finland is a “sovereign state that makes its own security and defense decisions.”
In a related development, the country’s Christian Democratic Party (KD) reiterated its support for Finland’s bid to join NATO, according to Helsingin Sanomat, a local daily.
The party announced that a poll conducted among its members revealed that four out of five party members support NATO membership.
The Social Democratic Party of Finland is expected to make clear its position on the matter at a party council meeting in May, the daily said.
On April 15, the Russian Foreign Ministry argued that the admission of Finland and Sweden to NATO will have negative consequences for peace and stability in northern Europe, while the Kremlin said on April 14 that it will take measures if its Scandinavian neighbors are admitted to NATO.
Since the war began on Feb. 24, the civilian death toll in Ukraine has climbed to 2,435, while 2,946 have been injured, according to United Nations estimates, with the true figure feared to be much higher.
More than 5 million Ukrainians have fled to other countries, with over 7 million more internally displaced, said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
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