Progressive and anti-war sections in Finland continue to protest the country’s bid for NATO membership. On June 4 and 5, activists from various groups including Stop NATO, Communist Youth Association (Kommunistinuoret), Communist Youth (KTP), Tampere Marxist Study Circle and Pirkanmaa Peace Defenders’ Committee participated in demonstrations in Helsinki and Tampere denouncing the government’s move to join NATO. The protesters claimed that Finland’s accession to the US-led military alliance will make it part of the nexus against the people of the world and will not be in the interest of the Finnish people either.
Finland and Sweden have recently decided to join NATO. The political establishment in the country used the pretext of the Russia-Ukraine war to run a campaign claiming that joining NATO was essential for the country’s security. Prior to this, Finland and Sweden had pursued a policy of neutrality towards the US and the erstwhile Soviet Union, later Russia. Despite significant pressure from centrist and center-right sections to join NATO, the countries had remained committed to this policy. But the ongoing war in Ukraine has caused a rise in militarism and Russophobia in the region, and sections within the social democratic parties in the two countries rooted for NATO membership. Finland and Sweden submitted their application to join NATO on May 18.
Regarding the protests on June 4 and 5, the Communist Youth Association stated, “we still say no to NATO and together and openly say yes to peace! The security of nations or a viable planet cannot be secured with wars, nuclear weapons or human rights crimes. We choose the path of peace politics, dialogue, people’s welfare and national democracy.”
JP Väisänen from the Communist Party of Finland (SKP) had earlier told Peoples Dispatch that his party was clearly opposed to Finland’s possible NATO membership and the strengthening of any plans to join military alliances in the EU. “World crises, conflicts and wars need countries and regions to stand away from big powers like the US and Russia and their conflicts, in order to function as a neutral and respected functionary to facilitate necessary dialogue and finding mutual steps in understanding and peace making,” he said
“SKP opposes the increase of Finnish military budget and the deal for F35 fighters. We stand on the side of the European Peace movement and demand more resources in building civil society peace and participatory initiatives. SKP is against the Russian war in Ukraine but we also see Russia as a neighbor and not an enemy,” he had said.
Progressive sections in Sweden are also continuing protests against the bid to join NATO. Protests are also ongoing in various other parts of Europe, including in Italy, Greece, Norway and Czech Republic, against new military deals.