Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven joined Finnish President Sauli Niinistö at his summer residence in southwest Finland on Sunday for a two-day summit on foreign and security policy. Löfven made it clear that Sweden is prepared to defend Finland if needed in the name of solidarity, but dismissed talk of a potential defence alliance or potential NATO membership as premature.
Löfven said applying for full NATO membership is not on the horizon for Sweden.
“Sweden has been able to live in peace for centuries and we intend to continue for at least another 200 years. We seek predictability and long-term development in our immediate vicinity. NATO membership is not timely,” he said.
Among other things, Finland’s latest foreign and security appraisal released on Friday said that Finland cannot rule out the possibility of a military use of force. When questioned, President Niinistö said that acknowledging this fact is practicing realism. But when it comes to a threat to Finland from the East, Niinistö said squarely that he doesn’t see it.
“Russia presents no concrete, clearly discernible threat to our security,” he said at the press conference.
He wondered if perhaps Finland doesn’t spend too much time worrying about raising Russia’s ire.
“We tend to worry about what might cause an annoyance or wake the bear. I think our concerns in this area might be blown out of proportion, for as president I haven’t observed anything the Finns have done to incur Russian disapproval. They will say something if they are of a different opinion, and that’s a good thing. We certainly aren’t afraid to say something, if we disagree with them,” Finland’s president said.