No Nuclear Arms or NATO Bases on Finland's Soil, Prime Minister Says

Finland and Sweden formally apply to join NATO in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The decision, however, faces objections from Turkey

Reuters
Reuters
Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin arrives with Italian Premier Mario Draghi to attend a joint press conference in Rome, on Wednesday.
Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin arrives with Italian Premier Mario Draghi to attend a joint press conference in Rome, on Wednesday.Credit: AP Photo/ Andrew Medichini
Reuters
Reuters

Finland does not want NATO to deploy nuclear weapons or set up military bases on its territory even if Finland becomes a member, the Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin told an Italian newspaper in an interview published on Thursday.

Finland and Sweden formally applied to join the NATO alliance on Wednesday, a decision spurred by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but face objections from Turkey to an accession process that was originally expected to be relatively rapid.

Marin, on a visit to Rome to meet with her Italian counterpart Mario Draghi, said she believed the matter could be solved through dialogue.

"I think at this stage it is important to stay calm, to have discussions with Turkey and all other member countries, answering questions that may exist and correcting any misunderstandings," Marin told Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

Marin also said the question of NATO deploying nuclear weapons or opening bases in Finland was not part of Helsinki's membership negotiations with the Western military alliance.

"Nor do I think there is any interest in deploying nuclear weapons or opening NATO bases in Finland," she said.

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of neighboring Sweden, which like Finland is applying for NATO membership, has also said her country did not want permanent NATO bases or nuclear weapons on its territory.

Concurrently, U.S. President Joe Biden meets the leaders of Sweden and Finland on Thursday, hours ahead of his first trip to Asia as president, Biden will sit down with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö at the White House to discuss their NATO applications.

Turkey, a NATO member since 1952, has expressed unexpected opposition to Finnish and Swedish memberships, accusing the Nordic neighbors of harboring individuals linked to groups it considers terrorist. Ankara also cited the countries' arms export embargoes on Turkey after its Syria incursion in 2019.

Finland's President Sauli Niinisto and the Swedish Prime Minister Andersson are expected to meet the U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington later on Thursday.

Italy strongly supports Finland's and Sweden's application to join NATO and is willing to speed up any internal procedures for the two countries to join the alliance as soon as possible, Draghi said on Wednesday after meeting with Marin.

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