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Sat, 05 Jul, 2014 12:07:15 AM
Stubb, Reinfeldt discuss defence security, Ukraine issues
FTimes-STT Report, July 5
Sweden's Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, (L) shakes hands with Finland's new Prime Minister Alexander Stubb in Stockholm on Friday. Photo – AFP / Lehtikuva.
Prime Minister Alexander Stubb on Friday reiterated that Finland does not intend to apply for NATO membership during the regime of his government.
The prime minister made the remarks during his visit to Sweden when he discussed bilateral and EU issues with his Swedish counterpart Fredrik Reinfeldt.
The premier said Finland will not seek NATO membership, if the country’s leadership does not support the move or if the majority of citizens are not behind joining the military alliance.
The prime ministers of the neighbouring countries also discussed the need for closer defence cooperation and its mechanism. 
Stubb emphasised the existing good relationship between Sweden and Finland, referring to the Swedish premier by his first name. “Fredrik was the first who called me when I was elected the chair of Kansanllinen Kokoomus (National Coalition Party),” said Stubb, adding that the warm gesture had made him feel very good.
The two prime ministers also considered the possibility of further economic sanctions by the European Union against Russia following the Ukraine crisis.
The issue is expected to be discussed at an EU summit in the middle of this month.
Any further sanctions should have balanced impacts on the EU member states, pointed out Stubb. 
Earlier, on June 30, during his visit to Estonia, Stubb said his country would probably not apply for NATO membership during his 10-month government. 
Estonia’s NATO membership has increased security in the Baltic Sea region, but Finland will probably not join the alliance during his government, Stubb told a press conference hosted at the time jointly with his Estonian counterpart Taavi Roivas.
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