Many people have taken to Finnish Twitter this weekend in reaction to MP Erkki Tuomioja‘s (SDP) Nato comments in a National Public Radio interview (siirryt toiseen palveluun). The veteran Finnish politician told the US broadcaster that there was a “huge degree of emotions involved” in the public’s support of Nato, which has surged since Russia invaded Ukraine.
“Public opinion plays a big role in this, but there is also this ingrained fear, which is actually fueled also by our media, which is in a state of, I would say, war psychosis in a sense,” said Tuomioja, who has served as foreign minister in several governments over the past two decades.
Tuomioja, who vice chairs Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, told NPR that he did not believe a Russian attack on Finland was realistic. He argued Finnish Nato membership could create tensions with Russia, saying “we have had a very pragmatic relationship with Russia in terms of logistics, environment and regional cooperation.”
Tuomioja has not revealed his personal position on Finnish membership in the military alliance.
“I’m also concerned about the level of the public debate. Anybody who questions membership is being vilified as a Putin agent,” he told NPR.
Prime Minister and SDP leader Sanna Marin has said that Finland will likely decide on joining Nato within weeks. On Saturday Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) told Yle that there was little point in delaying a Finnish Nato bid.
Parliamentary debate on Nato membership kicked off in the Finnish legislature this week. These discussions will culminate in whether or not Finland opts to join the alliance. An Yle analysis on Saturday found that the majority of MPs—114—supports Finnish Nato membership. The portion of those in favour is expected to grow as more Social Democratic and Centre Party parliamentarians reveal their stance.