US President Joe Biden, Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, and Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö arrive to speak in the Rose Garden following a meeting at the White House in Washington, DC on 19 May 2022.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | fake images
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Thursday that the United States fully supports offers by Sweden and Finland to join NATO after both nations began the formal application process for the alliance.
Biden, flanked by Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, said the two countries would “strengthen NATO.” He called his moves to join the pact a “victory for democracy.”
The president pledged to work with Congress, which must ratify US approval of NATO offers, and the 30 members of the world’s most powerful military alliance to bring Sweden and Finland into the group quickly.
“There is no question, NATO is relevant, it is effective, and it is needed now more than ever,” Biden said after a trilateral meeting with the leaders.
The push comes as Russia’s assault on Ukraine has raised fears for other countries in the region. Moscow, long wary of NATO expansion, has opposed the two nations’ plans to join the alliance.
Earlier in the week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Finland and Sweden’s entry into NATO and any “expansion of the military infrastructure on this territory will certainly provoke our response.”
Similarly, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday that Russia “will be forced to take retaliatory measures, both of a military-technical and other nature, to stop threats to its national security that arise. in this way”.
Both Finland and Sweden already meet many of the requirements for NATO membership. These include having a functioning democratic political system, a willingness to provide economic transparency, and the ability to make military contributions to NATO missions.
However, all 30 NATO members must approve a country’s offer for it to be accepted into the alliance.
Earlier in the week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would not approve NATO applications from Sweden and Finland. He has cited his support for Kurdish organizations that Turkey considers security threats.
He added that delegations from nations should not bother coming to Turkey to try to convince him otherwise.
Niinisto and Andersson addressed Erdogan’s concerns during remarks in the White House Rose Garden.
“We take terrorism seriously and condemn terrorism in all its forms,” Niinisto said, adding that Finland routinely works with allies to combat terrorist plots.
Andersson said Sweden was talking to all NATO member countries and holding additional talks with Turkey to discuss specific concerns.