Finland Announces Formal Intention to Join NATO

Finland's president and the government announced Sunday that the Nordic country's intention to apply for NATO membership.

Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin (L) announce that Finland will apply for joining NATO membership in Helsinki.

HELSINKI — Finland’s president and the government announced Sunday that the Nordic country’s intention to apply for NATO membership. This move will open the 30-member Western military alliance to expand amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The Finnish Parliament will endorse the decision in the coming days. It is now considered a mere formality.

It’s most likely a formal membership application will then be submitted to NATO headquarters in Brussels next week.

Speaking alongside Finland’s president in Helsinki, she said they have been in close contact with NATO member countries, and NATO itself thanks them for the support they have received so far.

“In Finland, we still have the parliamentary process ahead of us, but I trust that the parliament will debate this historic decision with determination and responsibility,” she said.

NATO members’ foreign ministers meet in Berlin this Sunday to discuss providing further support to Ukraine. The meeting also discusses Finland-Sweden’s bid to join the western alliance.

Nato will also discuss Georgia’s bid despite dire warnings from Moscow.

Finland’s President Niinistö formally notified Vladimir Putin of the country’s move to join NATO in a phone call on Saturday. The Russian leader said it would be a mistake.

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Finland’s move comes ahead of a crucial meeting of Sweden’s ruling party to discuss the two countries’ possible joint membership application.

The German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said her country and others would be willing to fast-track the acceptance process for Finland and Sweden.

Baerbock said, “If these two countries decide to join, they can join very quickly.”

Denmark’s foreign minister said, “Every European country has a fundamental right to choose their security arrangement.” 

But Turkey has warned that it could veto the applications because it says Finland and Sweden both support Kurdish groups, which it considers “terrorist” organizations.

“A big majority of the Turkish people are against the membership of those countries supporting PKK, YPG terrorist organization,” Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, said.

“And they are asking us to block this membership,” he added. Finland’s foreign minister downplayed Turkey’s objections before the talks began.

“Yesterday, I called my good colleague Mevlut Cavusoglu the foreign minister, a little bit to take the tensions down. We will also meet today, and I’m sure we will find the solution to this item,” Pekka Haavisto told reporters.

Officials expressed strong support for Ukraine and warned that Russia’s blockade of grain exports from Ukrainian ports risks stoking a global food crisis.

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