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Speech delivered by Prime Minister Sanna Marin at Parliament’s plenary session on 16 May 2022

Government Communications Department
Publication date 16.5.2022 10.06 | Published in English on 16.5.2022 at 10.26
Speech
Pääministeri Sanna Marin puhumassa eduskunnan puhujanaitiossa.
Kuva: Hanne Salonen / Eduskunta

Prime Minister Sanna Marin gave a presentation of the report on Finland’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization at Parliament's plenary session on Monday 16 May 2022. Speech to be checked against delivery.

Mr Speaker,

Yesterday, the Government submitted a Report to Parliament on Finland’s Accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The Report supplements the earlier Government report on changes in the security environment.

The Government presents as its conclusion that the President of the Republic of Finland shall decide, pursuant to section 93, paragraph 1 of the Constitution of Finland, that Finland will apply for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) once it has consulted with Parliament on the matter. 

Let us now look at the developments that led us to this conclusion.

Firstly, fundamental changes have taken place in our security environment. At the end of last year, Russia issued a demand to the EU and NATO countries, including Finland, that NATO halt its plans for future expansion. Moreover, had we acquiesced to Russia’s demands, we would have significantly weakened not only our sovereignty but also our security. Russia’s claim that it is a target of outside threats has no grounds whatsoever. The only country that is threatening Europe’s security and openly waging a war of aggression is Russia.

Russia’s demands are in direct conflict with the basic principles of European security, which are also the foundation for Finland’s foreign and security policy. Accordingly, we adhere to the principle that each country has the right to make its own decisions on foreign and security policy. No other actor can infringe on this right. Russia’s demands mean that, in its view, Russia has the right to define a sphere of influence for itself.

On 24 February, Russia launched a war of aggression against Ukraine. Russia’s ruthless attack is not only a violation of the basic principles of European security but also of the UN Charter and, more broadly, of international law and human rights.

In the midst of such a fundamental change, it has become necessary for Finland to examine its own security policy choices.

As a NATO member country, Finland would become part of NATO’s collective defence and the security guarantees that come with it. If Finland becomes the target of an attack, we will receive aid. And, conversely, if another NATO country is the target of an attack, we will help them.

Finland has already committed to the European Union’s mutual assistance and solidarity clause. The European Union is built on a strong belief in solidarity.

That said, the EU is not a defence alliance nor does it aspire to be one. The European Union does not have the structures of a defence alliance nor does it make common defence plans. The majority of the Member States of the European Union have relied on NATO in organising their defence.  

Supported by NATO security guarantees, the deterrent effect of Finland’s defence would be considerably stronger than it is at present. We would thus strengthen the security of NATO as a whole.

If Parliament endorses the conclusions of the Report, the Government is equipped to make the decisions needed to launch accession talks quickly. The Report describes the five main areas included in the talks: political, legal, resource, information security, defence and military issues.

In the talks, we would express our readiness to commit to the North Atlantic Treaty and key NATO policies. This includes NATO’s Strategic Concept in particular. Under it, the core tasks include collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security. The Strategic Concept is currently being restructured.

There are no constitutional obstacles preventing Finland from joining a military alliance. As explained in the Report, we would go through the compatibility of Finland’s legislation with NATO obligations. We would be bound by NATO’s international conventions. No significant needs to amend legislation are expected to arise in the context of information security. The talks would also entail direct costs arising from NATO membership.  

The Report states that Finland already meets NATO’s defence policy and military membership criteria. The integration of Finland's defence into NATO’s collective defence would be carried out gradually after accession. 

To ensure that the common security guarantees, which are the key element of NATO membership, are implemented, Finland must participate in the defence arrangements of Northern Europe and in NATO’s collective defence planning. Finland must have the capability to allocate Defence Forces troops to assist other NATO member countries and to receive troops from other NATO member countries in Finland.

However, it is important to emphasise that all activities related to the provision or reception of international assistance are always subject to separate decisions in accordance with Finnish legislation. One of Finland’s most important tasks in NATO would be to see to its own defence. In NATO, decisions are taken by consensus.

As described in the Report, Finland’s membership in NATO would not entail expanding the national defence obligation set out in the Constitution to cover the collective defence of the entire Alliance. Finnish legislation is primarily built on the notion of national defence, but legislation has recently been developed to support the provision and reception of international assistance and other international cooperation.

Finland engages in strong security and defence cooperation with Sweden, the United States and the United Kingdom and many other partners that are central to the security of Europe. We cooperate both bilaterally and multilaterally. We have adhered to this policy since Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea, which belongs to Ukraine. 

Finland has become a very close partner of NATO. Sweden has also followed the same policy. However, this security and defence cooperation does not involve any kind of security guarantees, nor does it have a real preventive effect or other key elements of collective defence. 

Sweden is our closest partner. It is in our interest that Finland and Sweden make their security decisions simultaneously and with a strong mutual understanding. Sweden is finalising its decision today so that it will be able to apply for membership in NATO possibly as early as in the next few days. On behalf of the Government, I would like to express my gratitude to Sweden for the close cooperation we have recently enjoyed. 

Comprehensive debate on our security policy choices has taken place here in Parliament, in the Government, within the political parties and together with the President of the Republic.

I believe that I am speaking on behalf of many people in Finland when I say that our shared task is to safeguard Finland’s independence and integrity and the opportunity of Finns to live their lives safely and peacefully in all situations.

Promoting the rules-based world order, human rights and peace are the cornerstones of Finland’s foreign policy. In this changed security environment, membership in NATO would strengthen Finland’s opportunities to advance these objectives as well as Finland’s international position. And above all, by joining NATO, Finland would strengthen its own security.