Finland Joins NATO – Interview with University of Lapland Professor Julian Reid, Continued 

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, left, speaks with Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, center, and Sweden’s Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom, right, during a meeting of NATO foreign ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, April 5, 2023. NATO foreign ministers on Wednesday conclude a two-day meeting. Photo by Virginia Mayo/AP Photo.

UConn Department of Geography research scholar Dr. Barry Scott Zellen’s continuing interview with Dr. Julian Reid, University of Lapland on the implications of Finland’s April 4, 2023 accession to the NATO alliance. 

Zellen: Are there second thoughts and regrets on abandoning official neutrality, or had neutrality largely disappeared as Finland grew closer to NATO over the years since the Soviet collapse? Does the support in Finland for joining NATO suggest a unified public is behind this momentous change? 

Reid: But it’s not just that there is a lack of opposition which is the problem. There is a real lack of strategic imagination. And that lack has played a major role in determining the ease with which the process has moved forwards. The conversation has been polarised, and parliamentarians as well as policy and media ‘experts’ have all tended to take the same simplistic pro-NATO stance, with little consideration for the nuances of the problem, and virtually no lateral thinking. I would have liked to see Finland develop a more inventive response in terms of policy and strategy, rather than the rush to join NATO which has happened. If not just continued neutrality, then a stance with more flexibility. 

Zellen: Does the expansion of NATO make Finland more secure, or might it bring new risk? 

Reid: The simplistic assumption is that joining NATO makes Finland automatically more secure, because bigger and more powerful states are then not only allied but contractually obliged to act in the case that Finland were to be attacked in the way Ukraine was. Commentators and policymakers talk endlessly about NATO’s Article 5 and the security guarantees it supposedly brings. This is naive to say the least. Since 2014, NATO has been placing ever-greater emphasis on Article 3 and the obligations of member states to practice “resilience” and “self-help” in the case of armed attack by another state. In fact, Finland has been flaunting itself during the process of application for membership, by talking up its capacities in the area of “resilience.” If Russia were to attack Finland, you can be sure that it would be the resilience of Finnish society and its armed forces which would be called upon by NATO as a fundamental means of response. 

Leave a Reply