With the accession of Finland to NATO, Hungary and Finland could become strategic partners, Finnish Ambassador to Budapest Pertti Anttinen told daily Magyar Hírlap in an exclusive interview.
“You could say that, like Hungary, Finland is situated between East and West, and like Hungary, Finland has chosen Western integration. That is why we became members of the European Union and why we joined NATO,” Anttinen told the Hungarian newspaper.
“The ratification of NATO membership was extremely important for us. I think it is important for NATO, it is important for Finland, and it is important for our common security. It is also important for us that Sweden should become a member of NATO as soon as possible. After the Second World War, Finland also established trade and other relations with the Soviet Union, and we hope that relations with Russia will somehow be restored in the future.”
War changed everything
Finland, as a neighboring country, has had varied and deep relations with Russia, but the war changed everything, explained Anttinen.
“It was important for us to have good neighborly relations. However, there is no doubt that Russia’s attack on Ukraine was a shock for the Finns. For a country to challenge internationally agreed-upon borders was shocking.
“It was the reason why we could increasingly imagine our country as a member of a military alliance. This is how the position in favor of NATO membership grew and was reflected in politics and public opinion,” he added.
Anttinen noted that despite the differences between Hungary and Finland regarding the war in Russia — particularly whether to supply weapons to Ukraine — the two countries have a long-standing relationship that could be the basis of a strategic partnership.
“There are very strong foundations for Finnish-Hungarian cooperation. I would like to build on these in my work. At the embassy, we are trying to work in the same spirit, to promote the development of relations between Hungarians and Finns,” he said.
“And as we are already partners in NATO, I am quite sure that we will discuss how we can cooperate within NATO. This will also give a new perspective to the joint work that we have ahead of us.”