Niinistö: Nato membership should be decided only by referendum

Finland’s presidential race clicked into full gear yesterday as six of the seven presidential hopefuls took part in a debate organised by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum (Eva).

The presidential debate, which was the first of a series of debates scheduled for this autumn, heated up especially after the candidates were asked to shed light on their position on whether or not Finland should apply for membership in Nato - writes

Nils Torvalds, the candidate of the Swedish People’s Party, stressed that policy makers should use their own judgement instead of shunning responsibility by putting the membership up for a referendum. Decision-makers, he said, “have no right to hide behind a referendum”.

“I’m firmly of the opinion that the public’s views are what they are because we’ve been avoiding this discussion,” stated Torvalds, who is the only presidential candidate who is openly in favour of joining Nato.

His views were rejected by both President Sauli Niinistö and Matti Vanhanen, the presidential candidate of the Centre Party.

Vanhanen argued that Finland should join the defence alliance only if it has a clear mandate to do so from the general public. Niinistö, in turn, reminded that the rules of the alliance stipulate that aspiring member states must have the support of the majority of the public and political parties to join the alliance.

“This is so that also the part of the public who disagree can accept the decision because it was the will of the majority,” said Niinistö.

He also said it was “ridiculous” to suggest decision makers would be shunning responsibility by putting the issue up for a referendum.

“Nils, it’s not about shunning responsibility,” he responded to his rival candidate. “It’s a question of whether or not we care about what the general public feel.”

“We should refrain from making decisions on Nato or any other issues that can inflict wounds on a notable part of the public. The Finnish society can’t afford to do that,” explained Niinistö.

Niinistö also pointed out that a working group assigned to mull over the possible membership concluded in its final report that the decision on whether or not to join Nato could be the most momentous decision in the history of Finland.

“If we force through or downplay something like that, what will be left of this united nation?” he asked.

Pekka Haavisto, the presidential candidate of the Green League, said he is personally not in favour ofthe membership and called attention to the risks associated with referendums, such as possible attempts by foreign states to influence the results.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

Photo: Mikko Stig – Lehtikuva

Read more news of Helsinki on our site.

referendum Natomembership
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
3 views in november
I recommend
No recommendations yet


Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

A citizens initiative demanding the end of diesel tax met its target for 50,000 signatures in just one day, six months ahead of schedule. Cities across the world might be looking for ways to reduce the use of harmful diesel engines, but in Finland there appears to be a groundswell of popular support for the dirty fuel. On Monday Tuulikki Paavola published a citizens initiative demanding an end to Finland’s diesel tax was published, with the goal of getting...
The winners of the first edition of the European Capital of Smart Tourism competition were awarded 7th of November at a ceremony in Brussels, on the occasion of the European Tourism Day. The title for 2019 was awarded to two cities: Helsinki and Lyon. Cities of more than 100.000 inhabitants were eligible in the first edition of this competition. 38 cities from 19 EU Member States applied, but Helsinki and Lyon stood out for their innovative tourism measure...
Alexander Stubb (NCP), a vice-president at the European Investment Bank (EIB), has hinted at the possibility of returning to politics after losing the race to become the lead candidate of the European People’s Party (EPP) to Manfred Weber of Germany. Stubb received more votes than expected but lost to his rival candidate by a clear vote of 127 to 492 at EPP Congress Helsinki on Thursday. “I got a very good feeling [from the campaign], I must admit,” the fo...
The Finnish government will introduce no amendments to legislation on patient data during this electoral term, assures Annika Saarikko, the Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services. Saarikko and Kai Mykkänen (NCP), the Minister of the Interior, have participated actively in public debate concerning a legislative proposal that, according to Helsingin Sanomat, has been drafted in secrecy and would grant police significantly wider access to sensitive pa...
School groups could in the future use public transport services in the Helsinki region free of charge when travelling with a teacher, according to a decision made by the Executive Board of Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) on 30 October 2018. The final decision on transport charges, including tickets for school groups, will be made by the HSL General Meeting on 27 November.  From the beginning of 2019 onwards, municipal school administrations would no longer...
Finland has dropped to eighth in the world in the latest version of a ranking of countries according to their English language skills. Finns are now the worst English-speakers in the Nordic countries, according to the EF English Proficiency Index. The 2018 version of the ranking puts Finland in eighth spot, with western neighbour Sweden topping the comparison. This year’s result is the weakest Finland has achieved in the ranking, which has been published e...
The theme of next month's Independence Day ball at Helsinki's Presidential Palace will be climate change and environmental issues. The theme of this year's Independence Day reception will be climate change and the environment, according to the Office of the President of the Republic. Finland's most exclusive social occasion is just one month away, and the Office of the President has started sending invitations to some 1,700 guests for an evening that tradi...
The day's papers report on unsolved thefts, free head lice medicine for families and Angela Merkel's visit to Helsinki. Daily Helsingin Sanomat reports that most larcenies go unsolved in Finland. According to statistics by the Police University College, police were able to clear 3,150 offences between January and September of this year, while about 41,500 remain unsolved. In 80 smaller municipalities, especially in Lapland and Åland, the police did not sol...
Finland's Tax Administration reports that 15,000 more eligible taxpayers declared no taxable income in the last two years, putting the total past 160,000 in 2017. The number of eligible taxpayers who reported no taxable income in Finland has risen by 15,000 in the last two years to a total of 161,000 in 2017. "Most of the people declaring no taxable income are...