On Tuesday, April 4, Finland officially joined NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, becoming its 31st member state.
The accession was ratified during a ceremony held in Brussels, in the presence of Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and two representatives of the outgoing government, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto and Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen. Parliamentary elections were held in Finland on Sunday, lost by Prime Minister Sanna Marin's Social Democratic Party and there will therefore be a change in the government majority.
The ceremony, held on the 74th anniversary of NATO, which was founded on April 4, 1949, was also attended by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. During the ceremony, Blinken commented on Finland's accession saying that he was “tempted to say, maybe this is the one thing that we can thank Mr. Putin for.”
Finland's entry into the Atlantic Alliance marks the definitive shift of the Scandinavian country from the historic neutral position it has held in the last seventy years. Finland shares a 1,340-kilometer border with the Russian Federation and Finnish governments have historically preferred to avoid joining NATO for fear of provoking a backlash from their neighbour.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24 last year, fueled the fears of the Finnish government and population, giving decisive input to the presentation of the membership application.
Article 5 is the main reason that member countries have joined the organization in recent decades. Even the Finnish government, on the official internet page where it explained to its citizens the reasons and needs for its choice, says quite clearly:
“The most important effect of Finland's entry into NATO would be that Finland would become part of NATO's collective defense and be covered by the security guarantees described in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. The defense of Finland would have a deterrent effect that would be considerably greater than the current one because it is based on the military capabilities of the entire Alliance."
NATO is a defensive military alliance, which primarily acts as a deterrent against other countries that might choose to attack one of its members. This action of deterrence finds its maximum expression in Article 5, which reads: "The parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered as a direct attack against all the parties."
The Finnish government's decision to apply for membership came in May last year when the foreign ministers of Finland and Sweden handed over the membership application document to Secretary General Stoltenberg. Finland and Sweden intended to join NATO jointly, but the obstructionism of the Turkish government has so far not allowed Sweden to join.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan delayed the accession of both countries arguing that they welcome and shelter some members of Kurdish organizations considered as terrorists by Turkey, as well as the United States and the European Union, including the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers' Party.
Last week, the Turkish parliament finally voted unanimously in favor of Finland's accession but continues to block Sweden's.
So far Russia has not commented on Finland's accession, but in recent months representatives of the Russian government had repeatedly threatened retaliation in case of accession. The Finnish parliament's website was hit by a denial-of-service attack on Tuesday, according to its official Twitter account. It is not yet clear whether the hack is related to the news of Finland joining NATO or not.
Edited by: Ritaja Kar
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