Finland’s decision on NATO membership should be made in the spring, Prime Minister Sanna Marin told the Social Democratic Party Council on Saturday without revealing her personal view.

An increasing number of Finns are now backing NATO membership, and President Sauli Niinistö recently said a referendum was no longer needed.

Marin told the party council Saturday (2 April) that Russia is not the neighbour “we thought it was”, adding that Finland’s relations with Russia have changed in an “irreversible” way.

However, media and political analysts have speculated that Turkey, Greece and Hungary could get in the way of Finland’s membership bid, but Marin emphasised that she is not aware of any NATO members having reservations over Finnish membership.

Finnish diplomats have lately been visiting European capitals, potentially preparing for the coming application process.

A prominent veteran social democratic politician and former foreign minister, Erkki Tuomioja, expressed a desire to work with Sweden towards NATO membership.

“Sweden is the only country in the world having a genuine interest to foster Finland’s security,” Tuomioja said. Last week, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said she was now open to considering NATO membership.

In Finland, several parties have already said they would back the country’s NATO application. Signalling the green light last week was the nationalistic Finns Party leadership.

Finance minister and Centre Party Chair Annika Saarikko told broadcaster YLE in an interview on Saturday that she would be ready to hand the country’s leadership a “mandate to make the decisions on Finland’s security”.

The Centre Party has not yet said whether it favours NATO membership.

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