Finland, Sweden submit NATO membership applications.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday that Finland, Sweden have officially applied to join the world’s biggest military alliance, a move driven by security concerns over Russia’s war in Ukraine.

and Sweden to join NATO. You are our closest partners,” Stoltenberg told reporters after a receiving their application letters from the two Nordic countries’ ambassadors.

The application must now be weighed by the 30 member countries. That process is expected to take about two weeks, although Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed reservations about Finland and Sweden joining.

The applications face resistance from NATO member Turkey, which has threatened to block them over accusations the Nordic neighbours act as safe havens for armed groups opposed to Ankara.

“The security interests of all allies have to be taken into account and we are determined to work through all issues and reach rapid conclusions,” Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg said that NATO allies “are determined to work through all issues and reach rapid conclusions.”

“All allies agree on the importance of NATO enlargement. We all agree that we must stand together, and we all agree that this is an historic moment which we must seize,” he told reporters, at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Public opinion in Finland and Sweden has shifted massively in favor of membership since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Finland and Sweden cooperate closely with NATO. They have functioning democracies, well-funded armed forces and contribute to the alliance’s military operations and air policing. Any obstacles they face will merely be of a technical, or possibly political nature.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday doubled down on comments last week indicating that the two Nordic countries´ path to NATO would be anything but smooth. All 30 current NATO countries must agree to open the door to new members. He accused the two Nordic countries of refusing to extradite “terrorists” wanted by his country.

At a news conference on Monday, Mr Erdogan said Turkey opposed the Finnish and the Swedish bids to join Nato, describing Sweden as a “hatchery” for terrorist organisations.

“Neither of these countries have a clear, open attitude towards terrorist organisation. How can we trust them?” the Turkish president said.

Turkey accuses the two Nordic nations of harbouring members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group it views as a terrorist organisation, and followers of Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara accuses of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt.

All member states must agree that a new country can join Nato, therefore Sweden and Finland require Turkey’s support in their bid to join the military alliance.

Mr Erdogan said Swedish and Finnish delegations should not bother going to Ankara, Turkey’s capital, to convince it to approve their Nato bid.

His government has also pledged to block applications from countries that have imposed sanctions on it.

In 2019, both Nordic nations slapped an arms embargo on Ankara after its incursion into Syria.

In Stockholm, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde signed the formal request to join the Alliance, which she said would be sent to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg

“It feels like we have taken a decision that is the best for Sweden,” she said while signing the document.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto arrived in Sweden for an official two-day visit and was welcomed by Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, who had invited him. Niinisto addressed Sweden’s Parliament and said, “we took peace for granted; on Feb. 24 the peace was broken,” in reference to the date that Ukraine was invaded by Russia. 

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