Friday, June 9, 2023

NATO chief says Finland, Sweden welcome to apply to join

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Finland and Sweden will decide to apply if the military alliance welcomes them.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the military organization may also be willing to provide security guarantees to countries if a potential membership bid angers Russia.

A survey last month by Finnish broadcaster YLE showed that, for the first time, more than 50% of Finns support joining a Western military alliance. In neighboring Sweden, a similar poll showed that those in favor of NATO membership outnumber those against it.

“If they decide to apply, I hope all allies will welcome them,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels, when NATO foreign ministers met to discuss the war in Ukraine. “We know they can easily join this alliance if they decide to apply.”

Before starting the war on Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin demanded that the expansion of the 30-nation military organization cease and withdraw its troops from Russia’s borders. So the prospect of the involvement of neighboring Finland and Sweden is unlikely to be welcome in Moscow.

To shield them, Stoltenberg stated that NATO member states may be willing to provide security guarantees covering two neutral nations from the time they announce a potential membership bid until their applications are endorsed. is done.

Once a member, they would benefit from NATO’s Collective Defense Clause, which obliges all members to come to the aid of any ally who comes under attack.

“I’m sure we’ll find ways to address their concerns about the length of time between a potential application and final ratification,” Stoltenberg said. He declined to speculate on what those security guarantees might include.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Havisto said her country’s lawmakers are to debate a government white paper on security, including the option of joining NATO this month. He said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has changed public opinion.

“In three or four weeks we have a majority, for the first time,” Havisto said in favor of joining.

He added that Finland knows that “Russia is prepared to take a bigger risk, as we can see in Ukraine, a bigger risk to its own security. We can also see that Russia is accumulating its reserves against just one country.” Able to gather over 100,000 males without even touching it.

Havisto said the “threshold has been lowered, at least in debate”, on the possible use of strategic nuclear or chemical weapons by Russia.

He was also reluctant to go into detail about any security guarantees that Finland might require, especially as the debate continues about what is included in the house. But Havisto said it was something his country would like to discuss with “major” NATO members, and that the Finnish leader has been in contact with US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.


Follow Associated Press’s coverage of the war

Nation World News Desk
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