Finland’s foreign minister said that it is the right time for his country to join NATO, local media reported on Saturday.
According to the public broadcaster YLE, Pekka Haavisto said the Russian war on Ukraine and following events have caused a drastic shift in the European security environment.
Against this backdrop, Finland was forced to re-evaluate its security policy, he said, adding: “What worse thing would still happen for Finland to at least consider joining NATO.”
Referring to neighboring Sweden’s bid to join NATO, Haavisto maintained that it would be useful for the two countries to synchronize their decisions.
He, however, said that Finland as a “sovereign state makes its own security and defense decisions.”
In a related development, the country’s Christian Democratic Party (KD) reiterated its support for Finland’s bid to join NATO, according to Helsingin Sanomat, a local daily.
The party announced that a poll conducted among its members revealed that four out of five party members support NATO membership.
The Social Democratic Party of Finland is expected to clear its position on the matter at a party council meeting in May, the daily said.
On April 15, the Russian Foreign Ministry argued that the admission of Finland and Sweden to NATO will have negative consequences for peace and stability in northern Europe.
Since the war began on Feb. 24, the civilian death toll in Ukraine has climbed to 2,435, while 2,946 have been injured, according to UN estimates, with the true figure feared to be much higher.
More than 5 million Ukrainians have fled to other countries, with over 7 million more internally displaced, said the UN refugee agency.