Finland and Sweden will apply for NATO membership on Wednesday, the two countries announced, despite warnings from Russia and the risk of a veto by Turkey, a member of the Transatlantic Military Alliance.
After the Finnish parliament approved on Tuesday with more than 95% joining NATO, the two countries will jointly present their applications for membership at the organization’s headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson announced in Stockholm. , together with the Finnish president, Sauli Niinistö.
“I am glad that we have taken the same path and that we can do it together,” he said at a press conference alongside Niinistö.
Both leaders will travel to Washington on Thursday to meet with US President Joe Biden, the White House announced.
After Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to downgrade his threats of retaliation for the two countries’ entry into NATO on Monday, the main obstacle now appears to come from the 30-nation alliance.
Turkey, one of the members whose ratification is essential like that of the others, reaffirmed on Monday its hostility to the entry of Sweden and Finland, despite diplomatic discussions over the weekend.
Turkey “will not give in,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accusing Sweden of being “the nursery for terrorist organizations” and accusing it of having taken sanctions against his country.
Analysts believe that Turkey is looking for compensation in exchange for its approval, for example by trying to get the United States to finally sell its F-35 fighter jet.
Turkey criticizes the two Nordic countries in particular for not approving extradition requests for people whom Ankara accuses of being members of “terrorist organizations” such as the Kurdish PKK, or for having frozen arms exports to Turkey.
Despite this, the Finnish president was “optimistic” about the possibility of obtaining Turkey’s support, “with the help of constructive discussions.”
For his part, Andersson said that “Sweden hopes to work with Turkey in NATO and this cooperation can be an element of our bilateral relationship.” He also assured that Stockholm “is committed to the fight against all forms of terrorism.”
Applications from Finland and Sweden, a direct consequence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, continued to move forward on Tuesday.
At the end of a two-day parliamentary session, the Finnish Parliament approved the accession plan by 188 votes in favour, eight against and no abstentions.
“It is an exceptional result, I did not expect it to be so clear. The vote is clear, there are no more discussions,” Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said before signing his country’s application for membership.
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde signed Sweden’s request at a ceremony on Tuesday.
Following the rise in public support for membership, Sweden and Finland found it necessary to protect themselves from a Russia that they now see as capable of militarily invading one of their neighbours.
The two countries would thus turn the page of decades of neutrality and then of no military alignment.
Concerned about Russia’s reaction, both parties are seeking bilateral security agreements for the period prior to their formal entry into the Transatlantic Alliance, which may last several months.
In this sense, the head of the German executive, Olaf Scholz, said on Tuesday that Germany will intensify its “military cooperation, especially in the Baltic region, with common military exercises.”
Meanwhile Gasum, the Finnish company in charge of gas imports, said on Tuesday that it fears a cut in Russian supply due to its refusal to pay in rubles.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.