Finland’s conservative former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb won Sunday’s presidential election, final results showed.
He won 51.6% of the votes, while his rival Pekka Haavisto, the former foreign minister, received 48.4% of the votes. Mr Haavisto has already admitted defeat.
These are the first elections since Finland joined the NATO military alliance.
The 55-year-old Stubb is taking a tough approach towards Russia, with which the Nordic nation shares a long land border.
He had said joining NATO was a “done deal” for his country once Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Finland officially became the 31st member of the Washington-led alliance last April.
At a news conference late on Sunday, Mr Stubb, a member of the Finnish National Coalition Party, described his election victory as “the greatest honor of my life”.
He also emphasized that it is “quite self-evident that it is difficult to have any kind of political dialogue with Putin as long as Russia is waging an aggressive war against Ukraine.
“So I don’t see any kind of communication with Putin or with the Russian political leaders in the near future. We all want to find a way to peace, but it seems to me that that way only leads through the battlefield at the border. moment.”
Mr Haavisto, who ran as an independent candidate, conceded defeat.
“Well, Alexander. Congratulations to the 13th president of Finland,” said the 65-year-old.
“If you ask me today whether I will ever be involved in elections again, my answer is probably ‘no’, not for a while and maybe never,” added Mr Haavisto, who has also stood twice had previously unsuccessfully run for president.
Instead, he said he would now focus on his work as a lawmaker.
Mr Stubb will officially take office on March 1, replacing Sauli Niinisto.
The Finnish head of state is directly responsible for foreign and security policy and is commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces.