Brussels – Finland and Sweden formally submitted their applications today (May18) to join NATO. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked the Finnish ambassador to NATO, Mr. Klaus Korhonen, and the Swedish ambassador to NATO, Mr. Axel Wernhoff, adding that “it is a good day, at a critical moment for our security.
Welcoming the requests from Finland and Sweden to join NATO, Stoltenberg said that every nation has the right to choose its own path. Calling the applications a “historic step,” Stoltenberg said, “You are our closest partners, and your membership in NATO would increase our shared security.”
Stoltenberg noted that the security interests of all Allies have to be considered, but they 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. This is a historic moment, which we must seize,” said Stoltenberg.
Finland and Sweden’s applications to NATO are a dramatic shift from their historically neutral positions.
NATO membership is open to any “European state in a position to further the principles of the [North Atlantic] Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area”. The Treaty’’s Article 10 also states that any decision on enlargement must be made “by unanimous agreement”.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quick to block a procedural vote on NATO moving ahead with Sweden and Finland’s membership applications, citing their support for “terrorist organizations” in their countries – namely the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.