July 15. 2024. 6:25

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Finnish ‘NATO’ beer, flags sell out after quickest accession in history

After the quickest accession process in the military alliance’s history, Finland became the 31st member of NATO on Tuesday, with a special NATO beer selling out in half an hour and flag sellers struggling to keep up with demand. R

NATO flags were raised for the first time in front of the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Military Headquarters in Helsinki. After decades of neutrality and non-alignment, the day marked a seachange not only for Finland but for the Nordic and Baltic regions.

The nation took the finalised membership with calm satisfaction. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine turned the sentiment in Finland to pro-NATO and an application was sent in May last year.

Following the day’s events, most people stuck to the Finnish tradition of ”not making a number” of them. However, there has been evidence of excitement and one brewery has managed to turn politics into profits. Olaf Brewing launched a NATO beer already a year ago.

Interviewed by Ilta-Sanomat, the CEO Petteri Vänttinen said: ”After Turkey ratified Finland’s NATO agreement, the whole stock practically sold out, we sold 9,000 cans in half an hour. Now we are prepared so that everyone can raise a glass.”

But it was not just brewers that were celebrating. Printscorpio, a company selling flags said they were struggling to keep up with demand for NATO flags.

“The demand for NATO flags has exploded and we are trying our best to meet that. During last weekend, we saw a 15-fold increase in orders,” CEO Tommi Helminen told Ilta-Sanomat.

While Finns celebrated with flag waving and beer drinking, politicians had a more measured approach.

“Finland will need readiness for change and adaptability. While membership does not change everything, being an ally requires us to adopt new ways of thinking and some changes in legislation as well,” President Sauli Niinistö said in a statement.

According to him, ”a lot has already been done” since Finland has been “committed” to developing NATO compatibility “for years”. However, ”there is still considerable work ahead to integrate Finland’s defence as part of NATO’s common defence,” said Niinistö.

(Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)