– It has long been said that Norway is NATO in the north. There are many indications that we must stop saying that, says senior defense analyst Per Erik Solli at the Norwegian Foreign Policy Institute to TV 2.
On Thursday, President Saulo Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin stated that they believe Finland should become a member of NATO.
Both are from parties that are basically opposed to joining the defense alliance.
Later today, the parties in Finland will have meetings where they will discuss membership, before there will be a political debate this afternoon. The Finnish Social Democratic Party is the largest governing party, and they will take a position on the NATO issue during an internal meeting on Saturday.
There are still several formalities left before they can become a member.
It is Niinistö, together with the Foreign and Security Policy Committee of the Finnish National Assembly, who will formally decide whether Finland will become a NATO member. It will happen on Sunday, writes NTB, which quotes the news agencies TT and AFP.
Once the elected representatives have made a decision and applied for membership, Finland can send its application to NATO.
A vote can take place as early as next week, Per Erik Solli believes.
The NATO debate is also ongoing in Sweden. According to the Swedish newspaper Expressen, the Swedish government will decide whether to apply for membership on Monday.
– Record fast
To become a NATO member, a country must first be invited. For Finland and Sweden, it can take around two weeks and is a record pace, says Solli.
When invited, you are invited to all NATO meetings and have the right to speak, but not the right to vote.
Thereafter, each NATO country must ratify the application to the country submitting the application. This means that the Storting in Norway must convene to approve any applications from Finland and Sweden.
– It usually takes about a year to become a NATO member, but the war in Ukraine and Russia’s threats means that this can at best only take a few months. It is also record fast, says Solli.
It is the war in Ukraine that has accelerated the NATO discussion in Sweden and Finland.
Solli believes that Sweden and Finland have seen the consequences of being outside the alliance.
– Sweden and Finland have seen how little value it is to be a partner country, because you are vulnerable to direct attacks. They have understood that NATO defends every millimeter of each member country, says defense analyst Per Erik Solli, who also works as a senior adviser at Nord University in Bodø.
If Sweden and Finland join NATO, it will primarily have advantages for them in terms of defense and security.
But he says it also has benefits for Norway and the High North.
– If there is a need to do something security policy and military in the High North, there are also two other countries that have interests that it happens and can argue for it in NATO, Solli says.
– If there is a need to defend Norway and the Nordic countries, the Norwegian defense has two new allied neighboring countries that can cooperate without borders.
He believes the region will be more stable if all countries in the Nordic region become NATO members
– From a security policy point of view, it will stabilize the situation and increase security, and there will be more predictability, he says.