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Finish Prime Minister Sanna Marin talks to the media as she arrives at the EU Council headquarters for an EU Summit on the situation in Ukraine on February 24, in Brussels, Belgium.
Finish Prime Minister Sanna Marin talks to the media as she arrives at the EU Council headquarters for an EU Summit on the situation in Ukraine on February 24, in Brussels, Belgium. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

Finland’s decision on NATO membership is expected to be “much clearer” before May 17 when the country’s president will visit Sweden, according to a senior Western diplomat with knowledge of Finland’s proceedings.

Following weeks of hearings from parliamentarians, the Finnish Foreign Affairs Committee is expected to draft a response on the Finnish government’s security report — which includes the option of joining NATO — as early as May 11, the diplomat said.

Following the publication of the committee response, Finland’s parliament will hold an extraordinary debate on whether to approve the security report recommendations. 

Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin have not yet expressed a position on NATO membership, but both have promised to publicly express an opinion after the conclusion of Finland’s parliament debate, according to the diplomat.

They added that Finland is coordinating closely with Sweden as both countries would benefit from proceeding with NATO membership on the same schedule.

The diplomat also told journalists on Thursday that “the Russian Federation has a long-standing policy against the accession of new countries to NATO, especially those close to its borders,” and that Finland, in its security report, had laid out its “preparedness for hybrid and cyber influence activities.”

They said that, so far, Finland has “not seen active measures by Russia to contrary possible Finnish application to NATO” and explained that Finnish Defence Forces have said there is “no active military threat against Finland” at this point

Meanwhile, the source said they are convinced that Finland — which shares an 800-mile-long border with Russia — would “bring added value to NATO.”

“Finland is already protecting the northern flank of the alliance and with a defence integrated into NATO’s planning and command structures, Finland could do that even more effectively,” they added, also noting that “immediately after the attack, support for NATO membership among the Finnish public increased dramatically.”

Citing multiple opinion polls, the source said that at least 60% of Finns are now in favor of NATO membership, which “are really historic numbers because for 30 years in Finland, the support for joining NATO has been between 20 and 30% at most.”

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