At this stage, Finland does not consider the prospect of joining the North Atlantic alliance, President Sauli Niinisto said in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. According to him, Moscow "made it clear" that if Finland joins NATO, it will "see it as an enemy."
"The Russians made it clear that when they look at us across the border, they see Finnish people." If we join NATO, they will see us as enemies. That is their position, "explained Niinisto. He added that joining the Alliance is still a possible option.
The President of Finland reminded of the close proximity between the two states' borders. In his opinion, this should be taken into account. "We can not change geography, we are neighbors, and we have 1,300 kilometers of the common border, which is almost as much as with other EU member states and NATO," he recalled, calling for building "business relations" between the two states.
He stressed the fact that he "gets along well" with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "We can openly discuss even very sensitive issues," added the guarantor.
At the same time, he believes that one must be very careful when meeting with Putin, writes Yle. This year, Niinisto met Putin twice: during the summit of the Russian and the United States presidents in Helsinki and Sochi.
Finland, Sweden, Georgia, Jordan and Australia are part of NATO's Enhanced Opportunities Partners Program (EOP). Since 1993, Finland has participated in the non-military part of NATO drills in the Baltic Sea. The discussion about joining NATO significantly intensified in connection with Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
In May 2018, Scandinavian countries signed a treaty providing full participation in NATO exercises and the possibility of using the Alliance's command and control systems. In turn, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu threatened with Moscow’s "retaliation" because of Sweden’s and Finland’s active cooperation with the Alliance.