Brussels, May 18 (EFE).- The Swedish and Finnish ambassadors to Nato submitted their countries’ applications to join the military alliance to secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels on Wednesday.
Speaking at Nato headquarters, Stoltenberg called the move a “historic step” at a “critical moment” for European security.
The event, which was broadcast live on the Nato website, took place early Wednesday after the Finnish parliament approved an application to join the alliance and the Swedish government communicated its decision to request entry into the organization this week.
Finnish diplomat Klaus Korhonen and Sweden’s Axel Wernhoff hand-delivered their countries’ applications to Stoltenberg, who praised Stockholm and Helsinki for taking the decision.
“Every nation has the right to choose its own path. You have both made your choice, after thorough democratic processes. And I warmly welcome the requests by Finland and Sweden to join Nato,” Stoltenberg said.
He said Helsinki and Stockholm were “the closest partners” in the alliance, adding that their entry into the transatlantic organization “will increase our shared security.”
“The allies will now consider the next steps on your way to Nato. The security interests of all allies have to be taken into account and we are determined to solve all problems and reach quick conclusions,” he explained.
Turkey, a Nato member, has voiced its opposition to the process, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying that he would block Finland and Sweden’s bid to join the alliance, accusing them both of backing terrorism and harboring Kurdish militants wanted by Ankara on terror charges.
The entry of new members must be agreed unanimously by members of the alliance.
Earlier, the United States expressed confidence that Turkey would not block the accession of the Nordic countries.
Stoltenberg said that in recent days there have been announcements from Nato members that they have pledged to protect the security of Finland and Sweden.
“Nato is already vigilant in the Baltic Sea region and Nato and allied forces will continue to adapt as needed. All allies agree on the importance of Nato enlargement. We all agree that we must stick together,” Stoltenberg said.
Sweden and Finland’s applications have been prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, ending their traditionally neutral stances.
After delivering the applications, the Nato’s decision-making body will meet to discuss the requests, which is expected to take place on Wednesday.
Accession talks could start as early as Thursday or Friday.EFE