Sweden and Finland Apply for NATO Membership

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Swedish and Finnish ambassadors handed official applications to NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg for joining the alliance. Sweden and Finland have submitted a formal application to join NATO. On Wednesday morning, May 18, the ambassadors of the two states handed over the necessary documents to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels. The reason for the decision of Sweden and Finland, which previously pursued a policy of military neutrality, is the security threat that arose against the background of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine. The application of the two countries will now be considered by the NATO Council, consisting of representatives of 30 member states of the alliance. The decision of Sweden and Finland to join NATO was made because of the war in Ukraine For decades, joining NATO has been a taboo for Sweden and Finland. These countries, however, have changed their position against the backdrop of a full-scale Russian armed invasion of Ukraine. Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin called the decision to join NATO a historic event and the beginning of a new era. “Everything changed when Russia attacked Ukraine. I personally think that we can’t trust anymore that there will be a peaceful future next to Russia on our own,” Marin said. In turn, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said that the decision to join the North Atlantic Alliance is “a historic change in the country’s security policy”. “Sweden needs formal security guarantees associated with NATO membership,” she said. Acceptance of the new members must be unanimously approved by all NATO member states. Most allies welcome Sweden’s and Finland’s aspirations to join the alliance. Only Turkey opposes admission of the two countries to NATO. Its president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, points to the two countries’ lack of a clear position on Kurdish fighters, as well as the imposition of sanctions against Turkey. DW