The NATO-debate in Finland - Between security, influence and identity


  • Teresa Åhman

Publish date: 2009-02-10

Report number: FOI-R--2719--SE

Pages: 99

Written in: Swedish


  • Partnership for Peace
  • foreignsecurity policy
  • defence policy
  • Russia
  • the Baltic States
  • Nordic Defence Cooperation
  • the United States
  • ESDP
  • Sweden


Finland´s NATO-option means that the country retains the possibility of applying for NATO-membership if deemed necessary. A membership in NATO is, however, not a viable option until after the Finnish Parliamentary elections in 2011. For those who are in favour of a Nato-membership, the year 2012 is particulary significant since the term of office for Finland´s president Tarja Halonen, a strong opponent of a Finnish NATO-membership, then comes to an end. Finland´s NATO-debate is a blend of security, influence and identity. The existence of different but rather constant "security policy identities" in fFinland has resulted in the NATO-debate remaining more or less unchanged during the last decade. No matter the current circumstances, the same arguments seem to be repeated. Moreover, there is a gap between the political elite and the public opinion regarding how to perceive of NATO and a possible Finnish membership. One explanation as to why Finland is finding it difficult to unite in a common opinion regarding NATO is the lack of a distinct political leadership. Even though it is difficult to determine what would actually trigger Finland to finally apply for NATO-membership, it is concluded within this study that the question of identity linked to political leadership, Finland´s defence, the Nordic defence cooperation, the development of NATO and the relationship between EU and NATO could be decisive. Russia, the United States and Sweden, however, are not expected to be determining factors, at least not in the near future.