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'NATO-oriented' Finnish president will be 'tough' on Russia - expert



Finland's president-elect Alexander Stubb will take a 'relatively tough position' on neighbors Russia after being voted in as Finland's President-Elect, Finnish political expert Teivo Teivainen told CGTN Europe.

The Nordic nation's first election since joining NATO saw Stubb secure 51.6 percent of the vote last weekend - and he takes a "relatively tough" stance towards Russia, with which Finland shares a long land border.

Finland officially became the Washington-led alliance's 31st member last April and Teivainen, Professor of Politics at the University of Helsinki, believes protection from NATO will be among Stubb's biggest concerns as he plans his presidency.

"I think he will have a relatively tough position on Russia," Teivanen told CGTN. "He's been emphasizing the peace dimension also because his opponent in the second round, Pekka Haavisto, is known as a fearless negotiator.

"But, as he said, there are basically no high-level contacts with Russian leaders. And he's clearly conditioning any moves toward a closer relationship to something that should happen in Ukraine and perhaps internal changes in Russia."

Teivainen also believes the dynamics of the Baltic region will be crucial to the presidency of 55-year-old Stubb, who had previously served as Finnish Prime Minister between 2014 and 2015.

"Stubb is probably a much more NATO-oriented person than the current president (Sauli Niinistö)," he said. "So Finland joins, and Sweden is very likely to join very soon, the Baltic Sea region will mostly consist of NATO countries - and according to who you ask, it might increase tensions for Russia on this border."


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Teivanen pointed to NATO's Article 5, which says that "if a NATO ally is the victim of an armed attack, each and every other member of the alliance will consider this act of violence as an armed attack against all members," as being key to member security.

"This has been the main argument in places like Finland and Sweden," he said, "that we get the protection of the nuclear umbrella through the fifth article of NATO."

However, Stubb has plenty on his plate when he gets down to work, including racism scandals and disputes over workers' pay conditions.

"He comes from the Prime Minister's center-right party that has had a fairly aggressive line against trade unions and workers' rights," said Teivanen. "The president in Finland traditionally tries to distance himself from his or her previous political party.

"Stubb in the campaign took some distance from the more hardcore right-wing economic positions of the governing party. It remains to be seen how he manages to do that now that he is president – or president elect, for the time being."

'NATO-oriented' Finnish president will be 'tough' on Russia - expert

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