Sweden Officially Announces It Will Apply For NATO Membership
EUROPE - Sweden's president and government have officially announced on Sunday that it will be joining Finland in applying for membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Turkey however has raised objections and has threatened to veto the request.
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin had made the announcement, and the Swedish ruling Democratic Party later gave the thumbs up for Sweden to apply for NATO membership jointly with Finland.
Finland's President Niinistö told reporters "Today, we, the president and the government's foreign policy committee, have together decided that Finland ... will apply for NATO membership".
A formal application for membership will be submitted to NATO 'most likely at some point in the next week' according to Euronews. Sweden's Social Democrats have traditionally not supported joining the NATO alliance, but since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, that has changed.
The party said that it would "contribute to a Swedish application for NATO membership" and said "The Social Democrats will thus work for Sweden, if the application is approved by NATO, to declare unilateral reservations against the deployment of nuclear weapons and permanent bases on Swedish territory".
Euronews says that NATO has played down Turkey's opposition to Finland and Sweden joining the alliance, but that Turkey could veto the bids due to the fact that both Finland and Sweden are in support of Kurdish groups that it considers terrorist organizations.
Turkey's foreign minister also stated Sunday that Finland and Sweden would have to give security guarantees and lift export bans on 'defense sector' goods to Turkey. "Our stance is perfectly open and clear. This is not a threat, this is not a negotiation where we're trying to leverage our interests," Mevlut Cavusoglu stated.
Cavusoglu also had stated on Saturday saying, "A big majority of the Turkish people are against the membership of those countries who are supporting PKK, YPG terrorist organization. And they are asking us to block this membership".
Finland's foreign minister Pekka Haavisto however said that he was sure that "we will find the solution to this item".
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that Germany (and other countries) would be willing to fast-track the national ratification process for both Finland and Sweden, saying "If these two countries are deciding to join, they can join very quickly".