Finland makes official decision to apply to join NATO

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Helsinki, May 16 (IANS) Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto and the government’s foreign policy committee took the official decision to start the process of the country’s application to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

Niinisto announced the decision officially on Sunday.

“On May 15, the President of the Republic and the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy of the government finalised a report on Finland’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. The report will proceed to the plenary session of the government today… and after its approval, it will be submitted to Parliament,” the government said in a statement.

Addressing a joint press conference with Prime Minister Sanna Marin, President Niinisto described the day as historical as a new era is opening, Xinhua news agency reported.

He said the Finnish security is not “a zero-sum game”, not directed against anyone.

Also hailing the day as historic, Marin said following the parliamentary approval, the cabinet will suggest to President Niinisto that the application be sent to NATO.

In a phone call initiated by Helsinki on Saturday, the Finnish President informed Russian President Vladimir Putin of Finland’s decision to seek NATO membership in the next few days.

The Kremlin said in a statement that “Putin stressed that abandoning the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake, since there are no threats to Finland’s security”.

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