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President clarifies Finnish "NATO option"

17 Jun 2019, 01:19 ( 5 Months ago)

DF-Xinhua Report
President Sauli Niinistö. Photo President Office by Juhani Kandell.

President Sauli Niinistö on Sunday clarified the meaning of the "NATO option" currently discussed in Finland.

Talking to media prior to the start of an annual security policy oriented discussion forum, Niinistö said the option means that Finland wants to maintain the possibility of applying, if it chooses. But the option does not exist beyond maintaining the possibility, he said.

Niinistö was asked to comment on recent speculation by a French top diplomat that it may not be certain that U.S. President Donald Trump would accept a Finnish NATO membership even if Finland applied. Niinistö said he had not heard or seen any new nuances about the attitude of Trump on NATO membership.

The foreign policy discussion forum takes place at the presidential summer residence in Naantali, southwestern Finland. The main foreign guest in the public discussion this year is German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

There has been added interest in the forum as it could give indications of the way foreign policy management would develop under the new Finnish left-center government.

Niinistö said that the formulation in the new Finnish government program that Finland would not allow its territory to be used against another country was "nothing new".

The wording had been seen by some commentators as an indication that Finland takes into account possible fears in Russia.

Niinistö said the wording is in line with the defense statement of the previous government. "It would be odd if there was a wording that our territory could be used for hostile purposes," he said.