Finland joins NATO as Foreign Ministers renew pressure on China

A review of the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting, Brussels, 4-5 April 2023

The two-day NATO Foreign Ministerial meeting in Brussels accepted the formal accession of Finland to the alliance. In addition, four other main issues were discussed: Continuing support to Ukraine; The global consequences of Russia’s war against Ukraine and the growing influence of Russia and China; Threats and challenges in the South, including instability, terrorism and the growing influence of Iran; and Investing more in defence. The key activities and decisions taken by the NATO Foreign Ministers were as follows:

  • Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto took up Finland’s seat among NATO allies for the first time on 4 April – the alliance’s seventy-fourth anniversary. NATO’s frontier with Russia has grown more than 800 miles with the addition of its 31st member, Finland.
  • NATO Foreign Ministers reconfirmed strong support for Ukraine and agreed to start work on a multi-year support programme. But despite repeatedly stating its desire to be a part of NATO, the path towards membership remains vague (15 years after NATO first agreed to accept Ukraine and Georgia as members of the alliance).
  • Deepening cooperation with Indo-Pacific partners Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea is anticipated in areas such as cyber defence, new technologies and countering disinformation.
  • It was deemed important to continue to increase military spending. At the Vilnius Summit, a new military investment pledge is likely to be approved, with 2% “as a floor not a ceiling”.
  • The long-term challenges posed by China were discussed, but seemingly no new policy commitments were made.

Read more in the attached pdf