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  15 May 2022, 17:09

Finland to apply for NATO membership: president, PM

HELSINKI, May 15, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - Finland will apply for NATO membership,
the Nordic country's president and prime minister announced Sunday, as a
result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Today, the President of the Republic and the Government's Foreign Policy
Committee have jointly agreed that Finland will apply for NATO membership,
after consulting parliament. This is a historic day. A new era is opening",
President Sauli Niinisto said.

As the next step, the Finnish parliament will convene on Monday to debate the
decision, with current projections showing a large majority of the country's
200 member parliament supporting the bid.

"We have reached today an important decision in good cooperation with the
government and the president of the republic. We hope the parliament will
confirm the decision to apply for the NATO membership during the coming days.
It will be based on a strong mandate", Prime Minister Sanna Marin said.

Sharing a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) border with Russia, Finland has remained
militarily non-aligned for 75 years.

But after its powerful eastern neighbour invaded Ukraine in February,
political and public opinion swung dramatically in favour of membership, with
the Finnish president and prime minister on Thursday calling for the country
to join NATO "without delay".

Russia has repeatedly warned of consequences if Helsinki joins the alliance.

Earlier this week, Niinisto told reporters that "joining NATO would not be
against anyone."

He said his response to Russia would be: "You caused this. Look in the
mirror."

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