Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Monday, May 27, 2024

Finland should be ready to join NATO, with or without Sweden

Finland should be ready to join NATO, with or without Sweden

While there are several reasons why simultaneous accession remains the preferred option for all involved, Finland should be open to the prospect of joining without Sweden, Helmi Pillai argues.

If Turkey is willing to ratify Finland’s NATO membership, there is little reason for Helsinki to wait for Stockholm.

Last May, Finland and Sweden announced their joint NATO bids in response to Russia’s February full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Turkey and Hungary are the only NATO allies yet to ratify their membership.

Hungary has suggested it will begin the process this spring, but Turkey continues to delay the ratification.


Negotiations under duress


Ankara claims that Sweden, in particular, has failed to extradite or deport pro-Kurdish activists and that it has not done enough to crack down on supporters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

In January, the ratification process reached a breaking point following protests in Stockholm, which included the burning of a Quran by a far-right politician and the pro-Kurdish group's hanging of an effigy inspired by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

A protestor jumps on a banner with the image of Turkish President Erdogan during a demonstration by The Kurdish Democratic Society Center in Stockholm, 21 January 2023


In response, Erdoğan announced that he would no longer support Sweden’s accession to NATO but suggested that Turkey could still ratify Finland’s membership.

This has put Helsinki in a difficult position. Officially, the Finnish leadership remains committed to its joint bid with Sweden.

Yet, recent comments from Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee Jussi Halla-aho, and Defence Minister Mikko Savola all indicated that Finland might be considering other options.

While Finland should be open to the prospect of joining without Sweden, there are several reasons why simultaneous accession remains the preferred option for all involved.


Finland's NATO bid depends on Erdoğan's election performance


For NATO’s defence planning, the Baltic Sea region would be most effectively defended as one strategic area.

Access to Swedish territory is vital for the security of supply and military mobility of Finland and other NATO allies in Northern Europe.

It would also undermine the alliance’s authority if Turkey was allowed to unilaterally decide who gets to become a member.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu shakes hands with Sweden's Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom before holding a press conference in Ankara, 22 December 2022


But if Turkey continues to block Sweden’s membership, Finland must prepare to join NATO on its own.

It is highly improbable that Ankara will ratify Sweden’s membership before the Turkish elections, which are currently due to be held in May.

If the opposition wins, they will probably lift the block on Sweden’s accession. But if Erdoğan remains in power, it is unlikely that he would be in a rush to ratify Sweden’s membership even after the elections.

Blocking the process provides considerable leverage for Ankara, which it could use to, for example, pressure the US to sell Turkey the F-16 fighter jets it is seeking to purchase.


Moscow's threat still looms large


There are several reasons why it would be preferable for at least Finland to join NATO than for both countries to remain outside the alliance.

For NATO, Finland’s membership would allow it to defend its territory in the North more effectively and, thus, improve the security of the whole Baltic Sea region. Sweden, too, would be more secure with all of its neighbours in the alliance.

Politically, it would be difficult for Finland to delay its accession to wait for Sweden after pressuring NATO allies to quickly ratify its membership.

This would probably also be unpopular domestically, considering that more than half of the Finnish population is in favour of joining the alliance before Sweden.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu review warships before the main naval parade marking Russian Navy Day in St Petersburg, 31 July 2022


Geopolitical considerations are also a factor. The threat of Russian aggression looms over both Finland and Sweden, but the two countries are not equally vulnerable.

Finland has a 1340-kilometre-long border with Russia; it was occupied by the Russian empire, fought two wars with the Soviet Union in the 20th century and was subjected to intense Soviet pressure throughout the Cold War.

The same is not true for Sweden, which has no land border with Russia and does not share Finland’s historical baggage.

As long as Russian troops are tied up in Ukraine, there is no immediate threat to Finland, but aggression remains a possibility. This is the reason why Helsinki wants to join NATO in the first place.


Sweden and Finland would remain close friends regardless


Finland’s separate accession could cause some friction with Sweden, but it would be unlikely to cause significant damage to the relationship.

Recent comments by Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Foreign Minister Tobias Billström suggest that Stockholm understands Helsinki’s urgency in the matter, even if it would prefer to join together.

In any case, it is highly improbable that Finland would join NATO alone without consulting Sweden first.

Finland's PM Sanna Marin, US Vice President Kamala Harris and Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson at the Munich Security Conference on 18 February 2023


For the moment, it is unlikely that Finland will actively pursue separate accession, at least before the Turkish elections.

Joining together remains the preferred option for Finland, Sweden and NATO.

But Helsinki must prepare for the possibility that Ankara may continue to block Sweden’s NATO bid after the elections.

If Turkey were willing to ratify Finland’s membership, there would be little reason for Finland to decline the offer.

Despite their close relations, Finland and Sweden are separate countries. And given the context, Finland must prioritise its own security interests.

Newsletter

Related Articles

Hong Kong News
0:00
0:00
Close
It's always the people with the dirty hands pointing their fingers
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Steve Jobs' Son Launches Venture Capital Firm With $200 Million For Cancer Treatments
Google reshuffles Assistant unit, lays off some staffers, to 'supercharge' products with A.I.
End of Viagra? FDA approved a gel against erectile dysfunction
UK sanctions Russians judges over dual British national Kara-Murza's trial
US restricts visa-free travel for Hungarian passport holders because of security concerns
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Political leader from South Africa, Julius Malema, led violent racist chants at a massive rally on Saturday
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
'I am not your servant': IndiGo crew member, passenger get into row over airline meal
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Spanish Citizenship Granted to Iranian chess player who removed hijab
US Senate Republican Mitch McConnell freezes up, leaves press conference
Speaker McCarthy says the United States House of Representatives is getting ready to impeach Joe Biden.
San Francisco car crash
This camera man is a genius
3D ad in front of Burj Khalifa
Next level gaming
BMW driver…
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
×