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Finland seeks to fast track NATO application

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Helsinki, Finland | Xinhua | Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Thursday publicly supported the idea of Finland applying to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

“Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay. We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days,” the two leaders said in a joint statement, arguing that NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security.

Foreign and security policies in Finland are jointly managed by the president and the cabinet, according to the Finnish constitution. A formal decision would have to be made by the president and the cabinet ministerial committee for foreign and security policy in a joint meeting.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Matti Vanhanen said on national radio Yle on Thursday that the president and the cabinet are expected to “make their decisions” this coming Sunday.

Finland is expected to submit an application soon, possibly in collaboration with neighboring Sweden, according to local media reports.

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Speaking to the European Parliament on Thursday, Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said his country is “fast approaching” decision-making on its potential NATO membership application.

On April 13, the Finnish government approved and presented a report to the country’s parliament on changes in Finland’s security environment. “This means that we are now fast approaching the point of national decision making,” he said.

Public support for NATO membership “soared,” with “extensive polling” showing around 70 percent of the population supporting the idea of joining NATO, said the minister.

Meanwhile, according to local analysts, 10-15 MPs are expected to oppose the application and membership. ■

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