Finnish Prez, PM back NATO application
Helsinki, May 12 (IANS) Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Thursday publicly supported the idea of Finland applying to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
"Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay. We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days," the two leaders said in a joint statement, arguing that NATO membership would strengthen Finland's security.
Foreign and security policies in Finland are jointly managed by the President and the Cabinet, according to the Finnish constitution. A formal decision would have to be made by the President and the Cabinet ministerial committee for foreign and security policy in a joint meeting, Xinhua news agency reported.
Speaker of the House, Matti Vanhanen said on national radio Yle on Thursday that the President and the Cabinet are expected to "make their decisions" this coming Sunday.
Finland is expected to submit an application soon, possibly in collaboration with neighbouring Sweden, according to local media reports.
Finnish public support for NATO membership began to rise in February. Various polls show that it has risen from around 20 per cent to more than 70 per cent. According to local analysts, 10-15 MPs are expected to oppose the application and membership.