NATO

Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay, leaders say

Finnish leaders' announcement comes less than 24 hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's visit to the country.

Finland's leaders have announced they support the country joining NATO.

President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in a joint statement that "Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay".

They added they hoped a decision to formally apply could be taken "rapidly within the next few days".

Thursday's announcement comes less than 24 hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's visit to Helsinki which saw the two countries sign a new security pact.

The security pact would see the UK go to Finland's aid, including with military support, in the event of an attack on the country.

IMAGE ID 2J80WJ2 Finnish President Sauli Niinisto shakes hands with Prime Minister Boris Johnson during meeting in Helsinki 11032022 CREDIT Xinhua, Alamy Stock Photo.jpg
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed a security pact on 11 May 2022 (Picture: Xinhua/Alamy Stock Photo).

Mr Johnson said the new accord was more than a "stop-gap" while the country deliberated over NATO membership, as well as an "enduring assurance between two nations".

Finland has previously opted to stay neutral and keep out of NATO for fear of antagonising Russia, with which it shares an 830-mile land border.

However, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, public sentiment for joining the alliance has grown in the country.

Should Finland apply, there will be an interim period lasting from when an application has been made until it has been ratified by all 30 NATO members' parliaments.