Majority Finns against NATO membership application: Poll
12 Aug 2018, 23:54 ( 4 days ago) | updated: 12 Aug 2018, 23:58 ( 4 days ago)
Majority of Finns would not like Finland to join NATO even after a presidential recommendation to support such a move, a fresh poll commissioned by news consortium Lannen Media said on Sunday.
The poll indicated that an application to join NATO would attain a 35 percent support, if backed publicly by the president. A half of the nation remains opposed.
Finnish supporters of a would-be NATO membership have said earlier the backing of joining NATO would be essentially higher, if the president would endorse it.
Of Finnish political parties, only the Kansallinen Kokoomus (National Coalition Party) has included NATO membership in its program goals.
In recent polls, the backing of joining NATO has been at around 20 percent, without the presidential backing being given as an option.
Commenting on the results, Teija Tiilikainen, director of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, said even a popular president cannot gain the acceptance of the majority in all policy issues.
The current government coalition, in power since 2015, notes NATO membership as an option, but sees no ground to pursue it now.
Finland has an "enhanced companion status" with NATO, but it does not offer security guarantees.
Finland has increased defence co-operation with Sweden, but the recently signed defence agreement with Sweden does not constitute an alliance.
A recent tripartite defence agreement between Finland, Sweden and the United States does not amount to a military alliance either.
President Sauli Niinistö has said NATO is "an open possibility," but would need a referendum.
Leading Finnish politicians have said they trust that Sweden would not go alone and apply for NATO membership.
Russia has recently warned that Finnish or Swedish NATO membership would cause "counter measures".
In the Baltic basin area, the three Baltic countries -- Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania -- Poland, Germany and Demark are NATO members. Also Norway belongs to NATO.