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France 24
France 24

Russia 'has no right' to tell Finland what to do: Europe Minister Tytti Tuppurainen


Talking Europe interviews Tytti Tuppurainen, Finland's minister for European affairs, following the Hungarian parliament's ratification of Helsinki's application to join NATO. Finland and Sweden both applied nearly a year ago, in what was seen as a huge shift in European security. But obstacles have slowed down the two countries' progress on that path towards the Atlantic Alliance. Tuppurainen also touches on her country's energy transition and the main issues in the upcoming parliamentary election in Finland on April 2.

Asked how much of a setback it is for Finland to have Sweden left out of NATO for now, Tuppurainen responds: "It was our priority to enter NATO together. We started this process hand in hand and Sweden is our closest partner. It would have benefited NATO the most to have us both entering simultaneously. But here we are, in a different situation. This was not our choice. And we have to be humble, as applicant states. But since it looks like Finland is going to be in NATO before Sweden, then of course Finland will try to help Sweden to also join as soon as possible."

Asked whether Finland would set up NATO infrastructure on its territory, which President Putin has said would have consequences, Tuppurainen says: "We do realise that being in NATO means having rights and obligations. We are ready to take care of the security of the whole region, not only of the high north or of our closest areas. Russia has no right to build any spheres of interest. It has no right to say to Finland what we should do. We will do what we will have to do, as an allied country."

On a related issue, the building of a fence on the 1,3040-kilometre border with Russia, Tuppurainen states: "I regret that we are in a situation where building fences is a necessity. This is a reality in today's world. I personally would prefer a world of peace and freedom of movement. But this is part of the response to the war in Ukraine. It was our border security officials, our border guards, who recommended to our government to build this fence. And we do our duty to increase security at the border, which is also a border of the European Union."

Tuppurainen also outlines Finland's plans to become the first carbon-negative country in Europe. "Our firm aim is to be climate-neutral by 2035," she says. "That's a goal that all the political parties share, except for one party. But a huge majority of Finns is ready to move towards a climate-neutral society and a climate-neutral economy. And we are not starting from zero. For many years we've been investing in different sources of energy. Our energy mix is quite versatile. We have nuclear; we have a lot of biomass; and now we are building wind and solar – and that's helping us to transform our industries."

Asked about the economy, which Tuppurainen says is at the core of the parliamentary election on April 2, the minister affirms: "The cost of living is a real issue for people, and we have to compensate that. Austerity is not the answer, and my party is rejecting that. We're discussing how to stabilise public finances; how to cope with rising prices; energy prices; the cost of living. Finland has been obliged to get more sovereign debt. So how do we solve the problem of debt levels getting higher? That's an issue. But in comparison with the EU and the eurozone, our debt level is not alarming. So we can solve this issue with a calm mind."

Programme produced by Perrine Desplats, Isabelle Romero and Georgina Robertson

The action was co-financed by the European Union in the frame of the European Parliament's grant programme in the field of communication. The European Parliament was not involved in its preparation and is, in no case, responsible for or bound by the information or opinions expressed in the context of this action. In accordance with applicable law, the authors, interviewed people, publishers or programme broadcasters are solely responsible. The European Parliament can also not be held liable for direct or indirect damage that may result from the implementation of the action.

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