MISE À DAY
Trying to “avoid tensions”, the Finnish president informed his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on Saturday of his country's imminent candidacy for NATO, a historic see-saw described as a “mistake” by the master of the Kremlin.
“The conversation was direct and straightforward and passed without annoyance. Avoiding tensions was considered important,” said the Finnish head of state, Sauli Niinistö, a very regular interlocutor of the Russian president in recent years.
According to Moscow, Vladimir Putin told him that seeing Finland end its long policy of military non-alignment “would be a mistake, since there is no threat to Finland's security”.
President Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced on Thursday that they wanted to see Finland join NATO “without delay”, with a formalization of the candidacy expected on Sunday, then a vote in parliament probably on Monday.
< p>Helsinki considers that the invasion of Ukraine as well as Moscow's demand for no further NATO enlargement justifies its change of foot.
Having also remained historically outside of military alliances so far, Sweden is also preparing to make the decision to join NATO. A key meeting of the ruling Social Democratic Party will take place in Stockholm on Sunday.
Moscow has threatened to take “technical-military” measures in retaliation.
Have these started? As announced on Friday by the subsidiary of a Russian supplier, electricity exports from Russia to Finland, which represent just under 10% of the Nordic country's consumption, were suspended at midnight on Friday night in Saturday.
Exports from Russia to Finland “are currently at zero”, confirmed to AFP Timo Kaukonen, an official of the electricity network operator, Fingrid. But demand is met by significant imports from Sweden.
According to the company RAO Nordic, a subsidiary in Helsinki of the Russian group InterRAO, this suspension is however linked to unpaid bills noted for a week, for which it did not specify the exact causes.
Finland, which shares a 1,300 kilometer border and a painful past with Russia, said to expect measures such as cyberattacks or border violations.
“We are prepared for different types of actions […] but there is no information that Russia would initiate military action against Finland,” Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Saturday.
In addition to Russian hostility, another pitfall emerged on Friday, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan displayed his hostility to this enlargement of the Atlantic Alliance – which currently has 30 members, including Turkey.< /p>
The Turkish head of state notably criticized the two Nordic countries for serving as a “hostel for the terrorists of the PKK”, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, considered a terrorist organization by Ankara but also by the European Union and the States United States.
Invited to a meeting of NATO foreign ministers which began in Berlin on Saturday, Sweden and Finland will hold bilateral talks with Turkey to try to overcome this hostility of last minute.
“I am confident that in the end we will find a solution” with Turkey, declared the head of Finnish diplomacy, Pekka Haavisto, on his arrival in the German capital .
Unanimity being required, Ankara finds itself in a position to block the integration process, supported by the other members of NATO.
“The vast majority of the Turkish people are against the accession of these countries that support the PKK terrorist organization”, repeated Mevlüt Cavusoglu, the Turkish Foreign Minister, on Saturday in Berlin.
But he left the door open to a compromise: “These are questions which we must of course discuss with our NATO allies as well as with the countries” concerned, he added.
“Finland and Sweden are our closest partners”, reaffirmed NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a tweet.
In Helsinki, the Social Democratic Party on Saturday gave the green light to membership in a vote of the governing bodies .
“We hope to be able to send our applications this week, together with Sweden. They have their own process but I hope we will make the decisions at the same time,” said the Premier.