By Matthew Roscoe • 15 May 2022 • 18:13
Sweden's ruling party back NATO membership bid hours after Finland announcement. Image: lilzidesigns/ Unsplash
Several Swedish sources say Sweden will now apply for NATO membership simultaneously together with Finland on Tuesday, May 17.
Highly respected newspaper SvD were one of the first to report the story and Finnish PM Sanna Marin stressed on Sunday, May 15 that it was important for the two countries to do it together.
“The Social Democrats will thereby work to ensure that Sweden, if the application is approved, expresses unilateral reservations against the deployment of nuclear weapons and permanent bases on Swedish territory,” the party said in a statement just hours after neighbouring Finland announced its official intention to apply for membership.
On Sunday, May 15, Finland formally announced its intention of applying for NATO membership.
In a joint news conference held at Helsinki’s Presidential Palace, Sauli Niinisto, the country’s President, and Sanna Marin, the Finnish Prime Minister, both confirmed this move – which is thought of as surprising from a country that has remained neutral for more than 75 years.
Although this is already considered to be a formality, the application has to first be endorsed by the Finnish Parliament in the next few days. This action has been supported in huge numbers by the nation’s residents.
However, despite the news of both countries’ plans to launch NATO membership bids, Finland and Sweden may have run into some opposition from Turkey.
Speaking on Sunday, May 15, Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that both countries need to lift export bans on Turkey and cease supporting terrorist groups within their own countries if they were to approve the countries’ membership in NATO.
“There absolutely needs to be security guarantees here. They need to stop supporting terrorist organisations,” Cavusoglu told Turkish reporters in Berlin following NATO foreign ministers’ meeting.
“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,” he said.
“This is not populism either. This is clearly about two potential member states’ support for terrorism, and our solid observations about it, this is what we shared.”
However, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Sunday, May 15 that Turkey was not blocking membership bids by Sweden and Finland.
“Turkey made it clear that its intention is not to block membership,” Stoltenberg told reporters virtually after alliance foreign ministers met in Berlin.
“I am confident we’ll be able to find common ground, consensus on how to move on membership issues,” Stoltenberg said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was confident that NATO members would support bids from Sweden and Finland, despite last-minute objections from Turkey.
Speaking on Sunday, May 15 following NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Berlin, Blinken said: “I heard almost across the board, very strong support for Finland and Sweden joining the alliance, if that’s what they choose to do, and I’m very confident that we will reach consensus.”
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Originally from the UK, Matthew is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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