Status: 05/17/2022 1:01 p.m.
Sweden is picking up the pace on its NATO membership: Yesterday the country announced that it would apply to join the military alliance. The official app followed today. But it is not an infallible success.
Sweden has officially signed its application for NATO membership. Foreign Secretary Ann Linde signed the request and said it would be sent to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “It feels like we made the right decision for Sweden,” she said.
Sweden had not joined a military alliance for over 200 years and Finland had been neutral since the end of World War II. However, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, public opinion in both countries shifted.
Finland’s application is also expected to follow soon.
The Swedish government announced the candidacy after a parliamentary debate the day before. An official NATO application from Finland was also expected on Tuesday. Its president Sauli Niinistö wanted to meet Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and deliver a speech to Parliament in Stockholm.
Swedish King Carl XVI. Gustaf stressed his country’s intention to join NATO “simultaneously and in agreement with Finland”. “It is a historic step that we are taking side by side with our brother country,” he said during a press conference with Niinistö in Stockholm.
The challenges posed by Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine meant “opportunities for consensus and deeper cooperation to be even more united”, the monarch said. Niinistö explained, “Our security policy line has been similar for a long time. And even now, when the situation calls for it, we take our steps together.”
Turkey slows down accession efforts
Most NATO countries have promised the admission of Finland and Sweden as soon as possible. However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is blocking their NATO membership, citing the Kurdish policies of Finland and Sweden.
NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg called on allies to take Ankara’s demands seriously. “Turkey is a valuable ally and all security issues must be resolved,” Stoltenberg said Monday evening after talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. “At this historic moment, we must stand together.”