Finland's new president stresses significance of NATO membership

Finland's former prime minister Alexander Stubb has been declared the winner of Sunday's presidential runoff and has stressed the significance of his country's NATO membership.

The top two candidates in January's presidential election competed in the runoff after failing to secure a majority of votes in the first round.

The Finnish justice ministry said Stubb, who heads the ruling center-right National Coalition, won 51.6 percent of the votes, while former foreign minister Pekka Haavisto, of the center-left Green Party, received 48.4 percent.

Stubb has been elected to succeed President Sauli Niinisto, who has served two terms, or 12 years.

In April last year, Finland joined the NATO military alliance, breaking with decades of non-alignment in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Finland and Russia share a roughly 1,300-kilometer border.

In an address, Stubb delivered in the capital, Helsinki, he said the post-Cold War era has ended.

Stubb mentioned three pillars in Finland's defense policy -- defense spending accounting for 2.3 percent of GDP, NATO membership, and a defense cooperation pact that Finland concluded with the United States in December.

Finland has been on heightened alert since last summer. The Nordic country closed most of its border checking points with Russia, citing a surge in the number of asylum seekers arriving in the country.

Finland blamed Moscow for intentionally sending them to cause turmoil.