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    June 7, 2016

    Finland would rather be friends with Russia than members of NATO -- President Sauli Niinistö

    Vladimir Putin, president of Russian Federation with Sauli Niinistö, president of Finland
    Sputnik France, May 1, 2016
    Translated from French by Tom Winter, June 7, 2016

    After the warning from Moscow that Russia will respond with military and technical measures at its northern borders if Sweden decides to join the Atlantic Alliance, Finland, for its part, rejected the idea of joining NATO.

    Commenting on a report by an international group of experts on the possible integration of Finland to NATO, President Sauli Niinistö was against any membership, reports Finnish media YLE . "We do not need to change the current policy," said M. Niinisto in an interview with YLE media.

    Nevertheless, as every country has the right to decide for itself according to its national interests what form of security is best for the state, the president said it was probably just to ask the people, by means of a referendum. 

    Sauli Niinistö also said that Helsinki and Stockholm were to make that decision separately. "We have no automatic reciprocal link on this where, if one country decides to join the Alliance, the other must immediately do the same (...) Each country is responsible for its. decision on NATO," said President Niinisto.

    Sauli Niinistö made this statement after the recent warning from the the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Russia would take adequate measures if Finland's neighbor, Sweden, joined the Alliance. **

    Although the Russian minister has said that Russia does not think the Swedes will attack once they have decided to join NATO, Finland has chosen not to poison its relations with its neighbor and partner."They (Russia) do not want the threat approaching their borders," said the President of Finland, who had already mentioned that Russia was a key partner for Finland. This was in his New Years speech, when Sauli Niinistö said that Russian-Finnish relations were among the priorities for his country's foreign policy.

    Read about Lavrov's warning here.

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