Helsinki (The Times Groupe)- Finland’s parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a proposal to join NATO in a historic policy shift prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and the government decided on Sunday that Finland would apply for membership, but parliament must approve the decision.
Speaker Matti Vanhanen said 188 lawmakers voted in favor of the application, while eight voted against it.
Pekka Haavisto, the Finnish foreign minister, said the decision should not be celebrated because “there is war in Europe”.
“The fact that Finland will join NATO will not alter its basic principle that it will always strive for peaceful solutions and is a peaceful nation that will first and foremost seek diplomatic solutions to every conflict,” the minister said during the debate.
Markus Mustajarvi, a member of Finland’s five-party coalition, challenged the decision with a counter proposal, which resulted in the application being put to a vote.
“The military alliance and Russia would have their borders with ours, creating new tensions not only during the application process, but also becoming part of our foreign and security policies on a permanent basis,” he said.
The foreign affairs committee decided early on Tuesday to support the proposal made by the state leadership for the Nordic country to apply for membership.
“Finland should apply for membership in NATO based on the opinions of ten (parliamentary) committees and expert assessments,” chairman Jussi Halla-aho told reporters. “This decision is unanimous.”