STOCKHOLM: Finland and Sweden will jointly submit their NATO candidacies on Wednesday, the two Nordic countries announced, despite the lingering shadow of a blockage by Turkey.
With the green light by an overwhelming majority of more than 95% from the Finnish Parliament, everything is now in place for the simultaneous arrival of membership applications from both countries at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.
These will be presented to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday at 8:00 a.m. (06:00 GMT) by the Swedish and Finnish ambassadors, the Finnish representation said on Tuesday evening.
“I am happy that we have taken the same path and that we can do it together,” said Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, alongside Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, on a state visit to Stockholm.
The Nordic duo will travel to Washington on Thursday to meet US President Joe Biden, the White House announced.
While Vladimir Putin seemed to put the mute on Monday on Russian threats of retaliation for a Swedish-Finnish membership, the main obstacle now seems to come from within the alliance.
Turkey, whose ratification is imperative like that of each of the 30 members of NATO, reaffirmed Monday its hostility to the entry of Sweden and Finland, despite diplomatic discussions during the weekend.
Ankara “will not give in”, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accusing Sweden of being “the nursery of terrorist organizations” and accusing him of having taken sanctions against his country.
Analysts believe that Turkey is certainly looking for counterparties in exchange for its green light, for example the lifting of the refusal of the United States to sell them F-35s, the powerful American fighter plane.
Ankara criticizes Sweden and Finland in particular for not approving its requests for the extradition of people it accuses of being members of “terrorist organizations” such as the Kurdish PKK, or of having frozen arms exports. to Turkey.
Despite these quarrels, the Finnish president said he was “optimistic” about obtaining the support of Turkey, “with the help of constructive discussions”.
“Sweden is delighted to work with Turkey in NATO and this cooperation can be an element of our bilateral relationship,” said Ms. Andersson, assuring that Stockholm “is committed to the fight against all forms of terrorism”.
In Washington, American diplomacy also displayed a certain optimism. “We are confident in our ability to preserve the consensus within the Alliance” in favor of membership, its spokesman Ned Price told the press, assuring that this feeling had “not changed” despite the statements by the Turkish President.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due to meet his counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in New York on Wednesday.
The candidacies of Finland and Sweden, a direct consequence of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, continued to take steps on Tuesday.
After a two-day parliamentary session, the membership proposal was passed by the Finnish Parliament with 188 votes in favor and eight against.
“It’s an exceptional result, I didn’t expect it to be so clear,” greeted Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, before going to sign his country’s application form.
His Swedish counterpart Ann Linde did the same on Tuesday morning during a ceremony.
After a spectacular jump in favor of membership in public opinion, Sweden and Finland have deemed it necessary to place themselves under the umbrella of NATO in the face of a Russia capable of militarily invading one of its neighbors. .
The two countries would thus turn the page on decades of neutrality and then of military non-alignment.
Faced with the risk of Russian reprisals, they have sought security assurances in recent weeks from their Nordic neighbors and the great powers of NATO.
Only the members of the alliance benefit from the famous article 5 of mutual protection, not the candidates.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz assured Tuesday that his country would “intensify” its military cooperation with the two Nordic nations.
Joining NATO, which requires parliamentary ratification by the 30 members of the alliance, generally takes several months. Sweden said it expects the process to take a maximum of a year.
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