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Mon, 11 Jan, 2016 12:10:16 AM
FTimes – STT Report, Jan 11

Both Finnish and Swedish prime ministers want to stress that their countries’ positions on NATO have not changed and that cooperation between the two countries continues as before.

This is the assessment of experts interviewed by the news agency STT on the joint article undersigned by Prime Minister Juha Sipilä and his Swedish counterpart Stefan Lofven published on Sunday in a number of Finnish and Swedish newspapers.

The prime ministers noted that being outside military alliances “contributes to stability and security in Northern Europe on the whole.”

They wrote, among other things, that remaining outside of military alliances serves both the countries well.

“The premiers want to assure that, in the current situation, the countries’ positions on NATO are considered necessary,” opined Institute of International Affairs Director Teija Tiilikainen.

Senior researcher Charly Salonius-Pasternak agreed with Tiilikainen’s opinion.

“The article clearly stated that there is no need right now to make changes to the NATO position or to make hasty policy changes in foreign and security policy,” said Charly Salonius-Pasternak said.

In Sweden, the current government has committed itself not to change the official position on NATO during its term. But, at the same time, public opinion in Sweden has become more accepting of NATO and the opposition is now in favour of NATO membership.

“This has spooked the mood in Finland, and [Finland] is wondering whether Sweden will make an expected change in position,” Tiilikainen said.

According to Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, Finland fears that Sweden would make sudden changes in security policy without Finland’s cooperation. Wallström made the observation while visiting Finland.

“It is important that we work closely together on these issues. We must try to keep a common position as long as possible,” Wallström told the media during the Security and Defence Conference at Sälen in Sweden.

Wallström was asked about the background and timing for the prime ministers’ Sunday article. In her reply, she referred to the Sälen conference as well as the growing NATO support among Sweden’s bourgeois opposition.

“There has been a change in perspective among the opposition parties,” said Wallström as a representative of the Social Democrats.

 
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