Letters containing applications to join NATO were presented to Stoltenberg by the Swedish and Finnish ambassadors Axel Wernhoff and Klaus Korhonen at the organization’s headquarters in Brussels.
“A good day at a critical time for our security. Thank you very much for applying to Finland and Sweden to join NATO. Every nation has the right to choose its own path. You both made your choice after a comprehensive democratic process,” he said. has been carried out on the NATO website.
The Secretary General of the alliance emphasized that it “warmly welcomes” the demands of the Scandinavian countries, and also described Finland and Sweden as the “closest partners” of the military-political bloc.
“Your NATO membership will increase our shared security. The statements you made today are a historic step. “Now the Allies will consider your next steps towards NATO,” Stoltenberg said.
According to him, it is necessary to “take into account the security interests of all allies”. At the same time, the alliance is “determined to resolve all issues and reach conclusions quickly.” Stoltenberg also noted that “multiple statements” have been made in the past few days by the alliance’s allies “about commitment to the security of Finland and Sweden”.
“NATO is already vigilant in the Baltic Sea region and NATO and allied forces will continue to adapt as needed. All Allies agree on the importance of NATO enlargement. Secretary General of the North Atlantic Alliance, we all agree that we must stand together.
Sweden and Finland’s path to NATO
After the start of Russia’s military special operation in Ukraine, Finland and Sweden announced their intention to relinquish their neutral status and join the North Atlantic Alliance. State institutions in Scandinavian countries have initiated the necessary procedures for this.
On May 15, the ruling Swedish Social Democratic Party announced that its decision to join NATO had been formally taken. Stockholm explained its desire for security reasons. At the same time, if his application is approved, the country will oppose the deployment of nuclear weapons and NATO military bases on its territory. On the same day, Finland officially decided to join NATO.
On May 16, however, Erdogan said Turkey could not say yes to Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership.
“Then NATO will not be a security organization, it will be a place where there will be many representatives of terrorists. We can’t say yes, they shouldn’t be offended,” he said.
According to him, “Sweden is a terror hotspot, there are PKK terrorists in parliament.” Therefore, even if Stockholm and Helsinki make anti-terrorism statements, Ankara will not believe them.
Despite Turkey’s objections, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde signed an application for the country’s entry into NATO, as the country’s representation in the alliance announced on Twitter on 17 May. On the same day, the Finnish Parliament unanimously approved a similar application, after which the document was signed by Finnish President Sauli Niiniste.
The previous day, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson announced that Sweden and Finland will make a joint application for NATO membership on 18 May. According to him, Sweden is ready to contact Turkey to resolve the differences between Ankara and Stockholm during the Nordic countries’ entry into the North Atlantic Alliance.
Russia reacted negatively to the possible NATO membership of Sweden and Finland. Thus, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted on May 16 that the expansion of the military-political bloc is artificial. The Russian leader believes that the North Atlantic Alliance has gone beyond its geographical purpose and in this way is trying to influence other regions.
And Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on the same day that security in Sweden and Finland would not be strengthened after joining the alliance, and that the decision to join the bloc was “another mistake with far-reaching consequences”.