Finland may apply for NATO membership, but it will require broad support from the local population, as stated by Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, speaking at a party congress in the city of Seinäjoki.
“I consider it is important, that if one day we will come to this decision, a referendum will be held,” Sipilä said.
“This does not mean that those who make decisions in the country are transferring their responsibilities [to the people], this means that they understand that such a big decision concerns us all, both present and future generations,” he added.
The Prime Minister stressed that Finland is a country that “is not a member of the military blocs, this, however, allows for the possibility of applying for membership in NATO. This point, in my opinion, is still a very good and functional position,” he explained.
In mid-May, the President of Finland Sauli Niinistö, also said that the question of joining NATO should be decided in a national referendum.
On Friday, Sipilä also dismissed rumors that NATO has agreed to provide military support for Finland and Sweden in the event of a crisis in the Baltic region.
Discussions of the possibility of Finland joining NATO have intensified following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and involvement in the war eastern Ukraine.
Last week, NATO troops landed in Finland for the first time for the Alliance’s BALTOPS 2016 naval exercises.
Recently, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow will take measures if Sweden joins NATO.