The first minister of Finland: «We are ready to face any situation, including cyber or hybrid attacks. Ankara’s opposition can be resolved with discussion “
ROME – There is a special word in the Finnish language, which cannot be translated into other languages: content. It describes the national character, indicates inner strength, stoicism, resilience. “I think every Finn has content in itself – he says in the interview with Courier the Prime Minister of Finland, Sanna Marin – and that means the ability to overcome whatever adversity we face. Whatever the difficulty of the time, we face it to ensure that the next generation has a better future ».
Does it also apply to your decision to renounce neutrality and ask for entry into NATO?
«It is very important to have made this decision, as we see how Russia is doing in Ukraine. Moscow has started a war of aggression against a neighboring country. We are too and are following the situation closely with great concern. We feel a lot of solidarity with the people of Ukraine, also because we know something about them. We have been at war with our neighbor in the past and have a difficult history with them. This is why we made this choice to protect our nation and our children ».
Sanna Marin was in Rome yesterday, where she met the Prime Minister, Mario Draghi. 36-year-old Social Democrat, in office since 2019, Marin leads a five-party coalition and is one of the youngest female heads of government in the world.
You say that joining NATO will strengthen Finland’s security and that its membership in the Alliance will strengthen European security.
«Becoming a member of NATO means that if Finland is attacked, the allies will intervene in our defense, as provided for in Article 5 of the Atlantic Pact. But it is also our responsibility to help others in the event of an attack. We have good defensive capabilities, we already spend more than 2% of our GDP on defense and for decades we have invested heavily in our security, precisely because of the large and aggressive neighbor we have on our borders. It is also important to have made our decision at the same time as Sweden ».
Because it is important?
“We have to make sure that the entire Nordic and Baltic regions are covered. We already cooperate very closely in defense with Sweden, as well as with Norway and other countries in the area. Once inside NATO, our collective security and ability to defend ourselves will increase ».
One of the honored Finnish traditions is to act as a peacemaker by preventing or mediating conflict. There is even a Mediation Center in your foreign ministry. Have you taken into account that joining NATO could damage your international reputation as an honest broker? The countries and peoples of the world will no longer see you as reliable mediators.
“I hope that’s not the case. We want to remain honest broker, to ensure that dialogue is always the way forward. In truth, the decision to apply for NATO membership is an act of peace, not an act of war. We must make sure that there is never a war on Finnish soil and we will always try to solve problems through diplomacy. Unfortunately, not all countries think so. Russia does not think so, it has attacked Ukraine by killing civilians, children, mothers, old people, acting in an unacceptable way. This is why we must support Ukraine and ensure that it wins the war by providing weapons, financial and humanitarian aid, by launching new sanctions against Russia, which will not stop until it is stopped ».
Are you worried about Russia’s possible military or hybrid actions during the accession process? And are you satisfied with the support insurances received from various countries, including today’s Italy?
“In truth, we have had strong signs of solidarity and guarantees of full support from many countries and we appreciate it very much. Our president, Niinisto, also had discussions with President Putin over the phone and his reaction was surprisingly calm. We hope that there will be no attacks from the Russian side, but if there should be we are well prepared to face any situation, including cyber or hybrid attacks ».
Are you worried about the opposition of Turkey to your membership and that of Sweden in NATO? How do you intend to deal with it?
“I think at this stage it is important to stay calm, have discussions with Turkey and with all other member countries, answering any questions that may exist and correcting any misunderstandings. Any problem can be solved with discussion and good will ».
Sweden has made it clear that, if accepted into NATO, it does not want nuclear weapons or permanent bases on its territory. She looked more nuanced today in the press conference. Among other things, there is a Finnish law which prohibits the deployment of nuclear weapons. What is your position?
“It is not a current debate, the issue is not part of the negotiation. These are national decisions. Nobody will come to us to impose nuclear weapons or permanent bases on us if we don’t want them. I therefore think that this issue is not on the agenda. It does not seem to me that there is even interest in deploying nuclear weapons or opening NATO bases in Finland ».
The UN named Finland the happiest country in the world in 2021, based on solutions for sustainable development. Is this happiness jeopardized by the war in Ukraine?
“We have a good welfare model, like all Nordic countries. And we want to make sure that every citizen or citizen can fulfill his dreams, have a good education, be able to face the adversities of life. These issues are not directly affected by the war. But of course the Finnish people are worried about what happens to Ukraine and the Ukrainians, towards whom we feel a lot of solidarity and we are committed to helping them ”.
Finland is at the forefront of equality, both for gender and for minorities. Can you give us some examples of what you have done and what you still want to do?
“We have done a lot. I see equality in a very broad perspective. It means better education, better parental leave system so that fathers are more involved with their children’s lives and mothers are able to work and pursue a career. It means a good health system, but also the green transition. We have reformed parental leave, increasing the time allowed for fathers. But we still have unresolved problems: we are about to pass a new law on transgender rights and we still have an excessive wage gap between men and women. It takes time, but we are on the right path ».
Is the Next Generation EU, with which the Union issues a common debt for a solidarity project, a single fact or a model for the future? Many leaders in Europe argue that a new Recovery Fund is needed to cope with the crisis caused by the war in Ukraine. What do you think?
“We need to make sure first that the current Next Generation EU is used in the right way. Finland is already allocating more than half of its quota for the green transition and we hope that other countries will do the same, all the more so now that we must end energy dependence on Russia. We are not in favor of a new Next Generation EU, we should rather use what we have intelligently. I want to remind you that there are still EUR 200 billion in loans that have not yet been allocated. We need to use the tools we already have and there are still many things we can do ».
Are you in favor of suspending the European budget rules also for 2023 and 2024?
“It is important to discuss the financial rules together. There is no doubt that investments are needed for the green agenda and common defense. We still believe it is important to have budgetary rules and discipline, to prevent countries from accumulating too much debt. But we also need investments and healthy national economies to make them ».
May 19, 2022 (change May 19, 2022 | 09:09)
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