Washington, DC – President Biden met with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and President Sauli Niinistö of Finland and offered the strong support of the US for their applications for NATO membership.
In remarks to the press at the White House Rose Garden, the President said it was a momentous day.
“Today, I am proud to welcome and offer the strong support of the United States for the applications of two great democracies and two close, highly capable partners to join the strongest, most powerful defensive alliance in the history of the world,” said Biden.
Biden said that NATO has proved to be an indispensable alliance committed to a free and peaceful Europe, and it is still relevant, effective, and needed now more than ever.
The President noted that Finnish and Swedish troops served with US and NATO forces in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Finland and Sweden are working in close coordination with the United States and other Allies and partners to support the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their freedom against Russia’s invasion.
“Sweden and Finland have strong democratic institutions, strong militaries, and strong and transparent economies, and a strong moral sense of what is right. They meet every NATO requirement, and then some,” said Biden. “And today, I’m proud to assure them that they have the full, total, complete backing of the United States of America.”
Biden added that Finland and Sweden make NATO more robust, not just because of their capacity but also because they’re strong democracies. A strong, united NATO is the foundation of America’s security. “I look forward to calling Sweden and Finland our NATO Allies.”
In his remarks, President Niinistö said that Finland and Sweden are taking a historic step by seeking to join NATO and thanked President Biden for his steadfast support.
“Now that we have taken this first decisive step, it is time for NATO Allies to weigh in. We hope for strong support from all Allies and for a swift ratification of our membership once it’s agreed,” said Niinistö.
Niinistö also addressed the concerns put forward by Turkey regarding Finland’s membership in NATO. He said that Finland and Turkey have always had good bilateral relations, and as NATO Allies, Finland will commit to Turkey’s security, just as Turkey will commit to Finland’s security.
“We take terrorism seriously. We condemn terrorism in all its forms, and we are actively engaged in combating it,” said Niinistö. “We are open to discussing all the concerns Turkey may have concerning our membership in an open and constructive manner.”
Niinistö added that Russia’s war in Ukraine had changed Europe and Finland’s security environment. “Finland takes the step of NATO membership in order to strengthen not only its own security but also in order to strengthen wider transatlantic security. Like you, Mr. President, said, NATO is protective, defensive — not a threat to anybody. At the same time, we must not forget that at this very moment, the brave people of Ukraine are fighting not only for their own freedom and democracy but for our common security.”
Prime Minister Andersson spoke of the strong bonds between Sweden and the US, adding that Sweden was one of the first countries to recognize the US as an independent nation in 1783.
She spoke of the shared values and beliefs in democracy and freedom — that are now being tested. “The situation in Ukraine reminds us of the darkest days of European history. And I must say that, during dark times, it is great to be among close friends,” said Andersson. “Together, we have responded forcefully to Russia’s aggression and provided unprecedented support to Ukraine. We have not flinched.”
Andersson said that she and President Niinistö had come here at a historic moment for their countries. “After 200 years of military non-alignment, Sweden has chosen a new path. Yesterday, Sweden and Finland submitted our formal requests to join NATO.”
Russia’s full-scale aggression against a sovereign and democratic neighbor was a watershed moment for Sweden, said Andersson, adding that her government has concluded that the Swedish people’s security will be best protected within the NATO Alliance.
Thanking President Biden for US support for Sweden’s NATO aspirations, Andersson said she looks forward to a swift ratification process by NATO members. She added that Sweden is having a dialogue with all NATO member countries, including Turkey, to sort out any issues.
“Mr. President, I want to thank you for your leadership in our joint efforts to promote democracy throughout the world,” said Andersson, “because democracy requires constant work and safeguarding, we have to win every new generation.”