Finland plans parliamentary vote on Nato despite Sweden block

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Finland plans parliamentary vote on Nato despite Sweden block
Li Andersson, leader of the Left Alliance Party, is worried that if Finland's parliament votes to join Nato, Turkey could use that to split it from Sweden. Photo: Antti Aimo-Koivisto/Lehtikuva

Finland's parliament looks set to push ahead with a vote on Nato membership before the country's April election, despite fears that this could increase the risk of the country joining the alliance without Sweden.


According to Finland's state broadcaster Yle, eight of the country's nine parliamentary parties now back are agreed on holding a vote to accept Nato membership before election day on April 2nd. 

According to the broadcaster, the speaker of parliament Matti Vanhanen is meeting representatives of the parties on Friday to discuss when the vote should best be held. 

Petteri Orpo, chairman of the National Coalition Party, said in a press release on Friday that he believed the vote should be held as early as this month. 


"There are good reasons why this parliament should vote to accept Nato membership in February, so that the process on the part of Finland can continue as smoothly as possible after the election," he wrote. 

The parties say that their preference remains for Finland to join Nato at the same time as Sweden, but the Left Alliance party warned that rushing through a parliamentary vote risked creating a situation where Finland was forced to join without Sweden. 

"It would be smart to keep the timetable in the parliament's hands," said Jussi Saramo, the party's representative in the parliament's foreign affairs committee. "Now we are giving Turkey the opportunity to continue with its divide-and-rule tactics.

The party's chair, Li Andersson, said her party was worried Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, would find a way to exploit the early parliamentary vote. 

"That's the worry that we have, that the timetable for the decision is placed in the hands of others. But we will follow the opinion of the majority." 

Anders Adlercreutz, from the Swedish People's Party of Finland, said that he did not believe that the parliament voting in favour of membership meant that a decision by Turkey and Hungary would force it to actually join, even if one or more of these countries blocked Sweden. 

"It's up to Nato to welcome in countries in the order it wants to," he said.



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