HS: More Finns see advantages in Nato membership

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HS: More Finns see advantages in Nato membership

Nato and Finland’s flags at the venue of a meeting between Nato General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin in Helsinki on 25 October 2021. (Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva)

A GROWING PROPORTION of Finns believe Nato membership would offer advantages to Finland, reveals a survey commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents estimated that the membership would serve as a deterrent in crises and guarantee military assistance from the defence alliance in the event of an attack against Finland. The proportion has increased by 18 percentage points since February.

A growing proportion (45%) of respondents also estimated that the membership would consolidate the position of Finland relative to Russia. The proportion stood at 27 per cent in February.

The respondents were asked to select any number of eight arguments presented in the survey for both joining and not joining Nato.

Also all of the five other arguments for joining were deemed more convincing than in February: for example, the share of respondents who said the membership would provide access to cutting-edge military technology has risen from 17 to 33 per cent and that of respondents who said the membership would finally cement the natural position of Finland as part of the West from 22 to 31 per cent.

As many as 84 per cent of respondents agreed with at least one argument for joining Nato, representing an increase of 15 points from February. The share of respondents who were convinced by none of the arguments has dropped from 17 to 9 per cent in the last month.

While arguments against Nato membership were found by 84 per cent of respondents, the survey suggests that the shift in public views is not as dramatic in this regard.

The proportion of respondents who gauged that the membership would erode Finnish-Russian relations stayed at 57 per cent and that of respondents who gauged that the membership could cause a conflict on Finnish territory at 41 per cent.

The proportion of respondents who were deterred by the possibility of Finnish troops being deployed to an armed conflict overseas rose from 47 to 52 per cent and that of respondents who were deterred by the possibility that Finland is drawn into an international conflict from 42 to 43 per cent.

Finland losing its role as an intermediary between the East and West was regarded as an argument against the membership by 34 per cent of respondents, compared to 38 per cent in February.

Ten per cent of respondents estimated that none of the eight arguments speak against the membership, representing an increase of three points from the previous survey, conducted before the invasion.

The survey was carried out by Kantar TNS.

The Finnish government has started drafting a government report on foreign and security policy, one element of which is Nato membership. Many political parties have announced they are re-considering their stance on the defence alliance in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine by President Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

“I think Nato membership is the right direction for Finland. Nato membership would be beneficial for us, but we must make sure the path there is safe,” Iiris Suomela, the caretaker chairperson of the Green League, outlined to Helsingin Sanomat on Wednesday.

Anna-Maja Henriksson, the chairperson of the Swedish People’s Party, is the only other ruling party leader to declare her position on the issue, saying she and her party are in favour of the membership.

In the opposition, the National Coalition has announced its support for joining.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

Source: www.helsinkitimes.fi

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