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Thu, 06 Mar, 2014 12:26:43 AM
Debate on joining NATO reignited following Ukraine crisis
FTimes-STT-Xinhua Report, March 6
 
File photo of Parliament. Photo – Lehtikuva.
Majority of the country’s lawmakers expressed negative views about Finland’s joining NATO, according to a recent survey report conducted by Finnish language newspaper Ilta-Sanomat.
 
A total of 92 members of parliament opposed while 26 MPs supported joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, said the survey conducted among 152 lawmakers out of the 200.
 
Eleven members of parliament, however, did not want to answer the question while 23 MPs did not have a position on the issue.
 
Defence Minister Carl Haglund briefly commented on the survey in an interview on Yle Tv breakfast programme.
 
The Minister said that the polls still shows MPs are critical towards NATO, adding that the crisis in Ukraine will have an effect at least on NATO-discussions.
 
Earlier, News agency Xinhua in a report on February 23 quoting a survey report said that majority of Finns persistently reject Finland's NATO membership, as well as the formation of EU common defense and Finland-Sweden defense alliance.
 
File picture of Defence ministers attending a meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels. Photo – AFP / Lehtikuva.
According to the lately released poll, 64 percent of Finns remain staunchly against NATO membership, while only 18 percent support taking part in the alliance.
 
In addition, 60 percent of Finns oppose the forming of the so-called EU common defense, while only 23 percent are in favor of the idea; 60 percent object a Finland-Sweden defense alliance, while 27 percent support the proposal. 
 
The survey also shows that the majority of supporters of all the major Finnish political parties except National Coalition Party, the ruling party of Finland, are against NATO membership, and the opposing rates vary from 57 percent to 86 percent. 
 
Even among the supporters of the pro-NATO National Coalition Party, the supporting rate of NATO membership reduced from 51 percent in 2005 to 38 percent in 2014.
 
The survey has also included the public opinions on EU common defense and the Finland-Sweden defense alliance for the second time since 2013, as the two are also heated topics in Finland in recent years. The Finnish public attitudes towards the two military alliance are both negative with 60 percent of opposing rate.
 
News agency STT reported that the crisis in Ukraine has once again led to the debate whether Finland should apply for NATO membership.
 
Majority of citizens, however, seem not to be behind the prospect of joining the alliance based on recent surveys.
 
A survey study commissioned by the Advisory Board for Defence Information published in December, 2013 revealed that 70 percent of respondents were of the opinion that Finland should not seek NATO membership.
 
In the survey, 21 percent supported joining the alliance.
 
The survey also established that 32 percent said joining NATO would increase security while 30 percent viewed that joining would decrease security.
 
 
 
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