Elina Lepomäki, currently a candidate for the National Coalition Party (NCP) Chair, says that Finland can apply for NATO membership without a national referendum on the matter.
Lepomäki says that according to the constitution, foreign policy matters can be decided on by the President and the government.
While Lepomäki stressed that she does not have anything against holding a referendum, she says: “I am of the opinion that if the security environment changes quickly, NATO membership can be applied for without a national referendum.”
Following the NCP’s announcement on Thursday that Finland should apply for NATO membership within the next few years, Lepomäki says she believes Sweden will apply for NATO membership within the next two years. She went on to say that Finland’s security environment has changed so dramatically in the past two years that it would also be in Finland’s best interest to apply for membership.
Meanwhile, President Niinistö, who was being interviewed by Yle TV1 on Saturday morning about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rhetoric regarding the US missile shield and NATO, stressed that potential NATO membership for Finland should be voted on by national referendum.
”I do believe that we need to ask the people,” says Niinistö. “I was a bit startled when I heard that some decision-makers felt they would need to make the decision because citizens might make the wrong choice,” he adds.
Lepomäki is running for NCP chair against the current chair, Finance Minister Alexander Stubb, and Interior Minister Petteri Orpo, who is also in the running.
Party members will vote on who will lead the NCP at the party congress in Lappeenranta in two weeks time.