Finns less interested in NATO, keep faith in EU

Finnish Border Guard ship, Turva, is seen guarding the waters near Helsinki, April 28, 2015. (Mikko Stig/Lehtikuva/Reuters)
Fewer Finns than before say they think Finland should join the NATO military alliance, according to a new survey by Taloustutkimus. The study was commissioned by the Advisory Board for Defence Information (ABDI), a parliamentary committee focusing on security policy.

The results of the interview-based survey were published on Wednesday. They show a dip in NATO-positive attitudes, falling from 25 percent to 22 percent from 2016. The change is within the survey’s margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.

The survey suggests that Finnish attitudes toward the future of the European Union haven’t changed much, despite the EU’s debt crisis and Brexit drama. More than half (58 percent) of the 1,001 interviewees said their faith in the EU remains unchanged. The figure from last year was just 45 percent.

Finnish armored terrain vehicle Patria takes part in Aurora 17, a military exercise between Sweden and Finland, at Tofta shooting field on the Swedish island of Gotland, Sweden September 19, 2017. Anders Wiklund/TT News Agency/Reuters

The study also found that 60 percent of respondents (up from 58 percent) think the EU as an institution benefits Finnish national security.

Terrorism and climate change top worries

The ABDI survey also covered issues that Finns find worrisome.

The largest perceived threat continues to be the global refugee crisis, with 83 percent of respondents citing it as their highest concern (down from 85 percent a year ago).

Terrorism-related worries grew from 75 percent to 81 percent according to the study, which speculates that the rise may have to do with summer’s Turku knife attack and various other acts of terror across Europe. Respondents also said that Finland should focus most on preparing for an outside terrorist attack.

75 percent of respondents cited climate change as their main concern, up from 71 percent.

Taloustutkimus conducted the interview study between September 22nd and October 10th.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Surveillance and search and rescue top Canada’s Arctic defence priorities, Radio Canada International

Denmark: Denmark’s new defence agreement renews focus on protecting the Baltic, Radio Canada International

Finland:  Finland wants to bolster military by at least 64 fighter jets, Yle News

Norway:  Russia’s Northern Fleet takes on key role in search and rescue exercise with Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russia’s Northern Fleet welcomes two new ships, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden’s Prime Minister reaffirms commitment to country’s defense, Radio Sweden

United States: Here’s what’s in the U.S. Defense Department’s new Arctic strategy, Alaska Dispatch News

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