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NATO Boss Courting Finland by ‘Friends-With-Benefits’ Arrangement

NATO Boss Courting Finland by ‘Friends-With-Benefits’ Arrangement

NATO Boss Courting Finland by ‘Friends-With-Benefits’ Arrangement
November 14
15:44 2017

Amid a drastic spike in pro-NATO rhetoric in non-aligned Finland, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg pledged still closer cooperation with the Nordic country without it having to become a full member of the alliance.

The perennial NATO debate always flares up before a

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he did not want to interfere with the Finnish NATO discussion, yet promised the Nordic country even closer cooperation without the necessity of joining the alliance. In an interview with Finnish national broadcaster Yle, Stoltenberg argued that NATO never forces a country to choose its political course.

“We respect countries that want full membership, sit down and negotiate with them. But we also respect countries that don’t seek membership,” Jens Stoltenberg said.

In recent years, Finland has stepped up its collaboration with NATO through joint drills and coordinated missions. Together with its neighbor and fellow non-aligned country Sweden, Finland belongs to NATO’s closes partner countries.

It has been universally admitted that Finland has never had such close cooperation with NATO as today. Finnish troops participate in NATO’s war games on a regular basis, whereas Finnish Defense

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“We could do even more together. Have more joint drills, develop joint defense capabilities, collaborate in cyber security. Also, the hybrid center recently opened in Helsinki can contribute to further expansion of our cooperation,” Stoltenberg argued.

A recent poll by Helsingin Sanomat daily indicated, however, 59 percent of Finns say ‘No’ to NATO. This is consistent with the Defense Ministry’s own polls, according to which the Finnish resistance to NATO has unswervingly polled between 60 and 70 percent over the past decade.

Jens Stoltenberg, Norway’s former prime minister, compared Finns’ opposition to NATO to Norway’s relation with the EU. While formally retaining its independence from Brussels, Norway is part of the European Economic Agreement (EEA), which gives the Nordic country access to the EU’s market, while also imposing requirements on Norwegian legislation.

A number of high-profile Finnish politicians and analysts, including presidential candidate of the Swedish People’s Party Nils Torvalds, advocated NATO membership. Former ambassador to Russia Hannu Himanen took the debate to a whole new level by urging his compatriots to submit a NATO application “as soon as possible.”

 

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Edward Bokhua

Edward Bokhua

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