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Almost 60% of Finns oppose NATO membership

Staff Writer |
Fifty-nine percent of Finland’s population do not want their country to become a NATO member, a new Gallup poll has revealed.

And even if Sweden agreed to join NATO, which is seen as a factor which could sway public opinion in Finland, 52 percent would be still opposed.

In the poll, carried out on behalf of Helsingin Sanomat, the biggest daily newspaper in Finland, just 22 percent said that they’d like Finland to join the U.S.-led military bloc, while 19 percent were undecided on the issue.

Those surveyed were also asked if they would back NATO entry if neighboring Sweden was a member. In such a scenario, the support for NATO membership increased to 33 percent, but those opposed were still a majority, at 52 percent.

Matti Pesu, a research fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, told Helsingin Sanomat that Swedish NATO membership is seen by experts as one of the main factors, which may swing Finns’ mood towards the bloc.

Considering this fact, the 11 percent increase in numbers of those supporting the bid in case of Swedish membership, revealed by the poll, was “surprisingly small," he said.

The Finns have been historically skeptical about NATO, with joining the bloc backed by just 15-16 percent in the early 2000s.

The support for joining NATO peaked at 26 percent in 2014 when Russia was accused by Western countries of allegedly supporting the residents of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions.