According to two recent opinion poll assays, the high-ranking Russian officer mainly managed to strengthen positive stands on membership
Just over ten days ago, General Nikolai Makarov, the commander of Russia’s armed forces and the country’s Deputy Foreign Minister, said that Finnish membership in NATO would be a threat to Russia’s security.
He also warned Finland against excessively close cooperation with NATO, denouncing the holding of military exercises in the east of Finland.
General Makarov recommended closer military cooperation with Russia.
According to recent polls commissioned by the late-edition tabloid Ilta-Sanomat and the MTV3 television network, Makarov’s comments mainly only served to boost the Finns’ relatively lukewarm support for NATO.
In the Ilta-Sanomat survey, just under one-fifth of respondents said that as a result of Makarov’s comments their attitude towards NATO became more favourable.
In the MTV3 poll, the figures were in the same region.
In the survey by Ilta-Sanomat, 65 per cent of respondents felt that Makarov’s comments did not have any impact on their views. Less than one-tenth estimated that their opinion had become more negative.
The poll was conducted by TNS Gallup.
”Apparently the General’s statement further strengthened the stands of those respondents who already had a positive attitude towards NATO membership”, TNS Gallup director Juhani Pehkonen commented to Ilta-Sanomat.
In the MTV3 survey, respondents were asked to express their opinion about the observation:”Makarov’s statement has increased the need to join NATO”.
About one-fifth or 21 per cent of respondents agreed and 52 per cent disagreed with the statement.
”It is quite a remarkable result, if one-fifth of the people think on the basis of one statement by a senior Russian officer that Finland had better seek NATO membership”, researcher Charly Salonius-Pasternak of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs remarked to MTV3.
Surveys indicate General Makarov’s comments boosted Finns' support for NATO