Sanna Marin says Helsinki does not want its membership bid to result in a scaled-up military footprint.
Finland is opposed to NATO deploying nuclear weapons or setting up military bases on its territory even if it succeeds in its bid to become a NATO member, Prime Minister Sanna Marin has said.
Marin told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera in an interview published on Thursday that such moves were not part of Helsinki’s membership negotiations with the military alliance.
“Nor do I think there is any interest in deploying nuclear weapons or opening NATO bases in Finland,” she said on a visit to Rome to meet with her Italian counterpart, Mario Draghi.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has also said her country does not want permanent NATO bases or nuclear weapons on its territory.
Finland formally applied to join the 30-member alliance on Wednesday, alongside Sweden, signalling an end to decades-long military non-alignment.
The Nordic countries were spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Turkey opposed to membership bids
The countries’ NATO membership process is expected to be fast-tracked.
All 30 NATO allies must unanimously approve a new country becoming part of the United States-led alliance.
Turkey, a NATO member since 1952, has expressed opposition but is not expected to stand in the way of the Nordic pair’s way. Ankara has accused Finland and Sweden of harbouring individuals linked to groups it considers to be “terrorist” organisations. Ankara has also cited the countries’ arms export embargoes on Turkey after its Syria incursion in 2019.
“I think at this stage it is important to stay calm, to have discussions with Turkey and all other member countries, answering questions that may exist and correcting any misunderstandings,” she told Corriere della Sera.
After meeting Marin on Wednesday, Draghi said Italy supports the NATO bids and is willing to support speeding up NATO’s internal procedures to expedite their membership.
Biden has backed the membership bids and pledged US support in case they face any “aggression” while their applications, which could take up to a year to be settled, are considered.
Andersson has warned Sweden will be “in a vulnerable position” while its application is being processed.