Finland, Sweden Close Deadline for Applying to Join NATO

“I’m glad we went the same way and made it together,” Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said yesterday at a joint press conference in Stockholm.

Andersson’s announcement came shortly after Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde officially signed an application to join NATO, saying it was the most favorable decision for the country.

At a joint press conference with Prime Minister Andersson, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto reiterated that democracy had won.

“This is a victory for democracy in Finland,” he said, citing the high level of support in parliament for the decision to join NATO and the support of the Finnish people.

The Finnish parliament yesterday also voted 188 in favor and 8 against in favor of the heads of state and government’s decision to join NATO.

The decision to join NATO officially ends Sweden’s more than 200-year-old policy of neutrality and ends Finland’s seven decades of nonalignment since World War II.

Although NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has repeatedly reiterated that the two Nordic countries will be welcomed with “open arms”, the immediate obstacle for them is Turkey’s opposition. Ankara has refused to approve NATO expansion and accused Stockholm and Helsinki of failing to act against the Kurds, which Turkey considers a terrorist organization.

However, the Swedish prime minister still hopes to work with Turkey in NATO.

“We look forward to the bilateral dialogue with Turkey and of course we will also enter into dialogue with other NATO members. Once I join NATO, I see an opportunity to develop ties into a more bilateral system,” said Ms. Andersson.

The Finnish President said he was also “optimistic” about upcoming talks with Turkey, insisting “the issue will be resolved through dialogue”.

Immediately following the conclusion of his two-day visit to Sweden today, Mr. Niinisto will travel to the United States alongside Andersson to meet President Joe Biden and discuss the two countries’ historic decision.

Seven Decades of NATO Advance in Europe.  Graphic: Statista.

Seven Decades of NATO Advance in Europe. Graphic: Statistics.

Moscow has expressed anger at the scenario of further NATO expansion eastwards shortly after Sweden and Finland announced their intention to join the alliance. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on May 16 that NATO expansion was indeed “a problem,” arguing that the move was in the US interest.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said yesterday that Finland and Sweden’s participation in NATO would not make much of a difference, noting that Moscow will monitor how NATO uses the territory of the two Nordic countries to “draw its conclusions”. .

than tam (Corresponding AFP, CNN)