IS FINLAND HEADING TOWARDS NATO?
The debate about possible Finnish membership of NATO has created speculation on future security arrangements in North Eastern Europe. According to recent opinion polls many Finns suspect that the foreign policy decision-makers are slowly pushing Finland towards NATO.
The official government line in Helsinki is that membership is not even considered. President Martti Ahtisaari says that NATO membership would not increase Finnish security. The government's stance was not helped, however, by the statement of the Minister for European Affairs, Mr Ole Norrback, that in the long run Finnish membership in NATO is more likely than unlikely.
The prominent commentator, Max Jakobson, thinks that eventually Finland, together with Sweden and Austria, will become NATO countries. Other writers warn, however, that old- fashioned military alliances cannot react to the new opportunities created by the end of the Cold War. An earlier government report also emphasised the principle of collective security based on European democratic values.
According to an opinion poll, a clear majority (70%) of Finns is against NATO membership. Another poll showed that two out of three Finns would like to return to the old concept of neutrality.
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