Finland announces a “historic” NATO bid, followed by Sweden | DayDayNews

The Finnish government officially announced its intention to join NATO, followed by Sweden’s ruling party, taking a dual development that paved the way for a possible joint application to join NATO.

Less than three months after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Finland and Sweden’s announcement on Sunday was a shocking reversal of their longstanding military non-alignment policy.

“This is a historic day. A new era is opening,” Finnish President Sauli Niinistö told reporters at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Sanna Marin.

The Finnish parliament is expected to approve the decision in the next few days. Then, most likely sometime next week, a formal membership application will be submitted to NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Hours later, Sweden also moved closer to applying for NATO membership after the ruling Social Democrats backed joining the transatlantic alliance.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson holds a press conference to discuss her party’s NATO membership decision in Stockholm, Sweden, May 15, 2022 [TT News Agency/Fredrik Persson] (Reuters)

The party said it favored joining NATO, reversing its decades-long opposition amid a surge in domestic political and public support for joining the military alliance following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Anderson told a news conference that joining NATO best meets Sweden’s security needs.

“The best thing to do for the safety of Sweden and the Swedish people is to join NATO,” Anderson said.

“We think Sweden needs the formal security that NATO membership brings,” she said.

The Social Democrats also said on Sunday that if Sweden’s application was approved, it would work to express “unilateral reservations about the deployment of nuclear weapons and permanent bases on Swedish soil”.

NATO membership requires approval and approval from all 30 members of the alliance.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed last-minute opposition to Sweden and Finland joining the EU, but NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday that Ankara was not opposed to the two countries ‘s application.

“Turkey has made it clear that its intention is not to prevent it from joining,” Stoltenberg actually told reporters after a meeting of NATO alliance foreign ministers in Berlin.

“I believe we will be able to find common ground and reach a consensus on how to deal with membership issues,” Stoltenberg said, adding that he was in touch with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevrut Cavusoglu.

Cavusoglu also praised Finland’s conciliatory attitude during the talks, but criticized the Swedish foreign minister’s “provocative” remarks.

Turkey’s opposition, particularly against Stockholm, has centred on what it sees as leniency between the two countries for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is on the EU’s list of terror groups.

Still, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken insisted he was “very confident that we will reach a consensus on the NATO proposal between the two countries”.

Finland’s Niinisto said he was “ready to have new discussions with President Erdogan on the issues he raised”.

Finland’s parliament will meet on Monday to discuss the membership proposal.

“We hope Parliament will confirm the decision to apply for NATO membership in the next few days. It will be based on a strong mandate,” Prime Minister Marin said.

The overwhelming majority of Finnish lawmakers backed the decision after Marin’s Social Democratic Party said on Saturday that it supported joining.

“Hopefully we can send our application with Sweden next week,” Marin said Saturday.

After the end of the Cold War, the two Nordic countries broke with strict neutrality, joining the European Union and becoming NATO partners in the 1990s, cementing their ties with the West.

But neither country had the concept of fully joining NATO until Russia invaded Ukraine.

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