Finland and Sweden officially submitted their applications to join NATO on May 18 in a meeting with Secretary-General Jens Stolenberg in Belgium.
The Finnish and Swedish ambassadors to NATO, Klaus Korhonen and Axel Wernhoff, formally conveyed the applications to Stoltenberg at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.
Stoltenberg said NATO would “work through all issues and reach rapid conclusions” on the Nordic countries’ membership bids, according to published remarks.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country would not support Finland and Sweden’s accession to the alliance. Ankara could unilaterally block any new member from joining.
Finland and Sweden announced plans to seek NATO membership after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. Credit: Oana Lungescu via Storyful
JENS STOLTENBERG: Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you.
AXEL WERNHOFF: Thank you.
JENS STOLTENBERG: OK. Ambassadors, [? dear ?] Klaus, [? dear ?] Axel, [? dear ?] friends, good morning. This is a good day at a critical moment for our security. Thank you so much for handing over the applications for Finland's and Sweden's membership in NATO. 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. You are our closest partners, and your membership in NATO would increase our shared security. The applications you have made today are an historic step. Allies will now consider the next steps on their path to NATO. The security interests of all allies have to be taken into account, and we are determined to work through all issues and reach rapid conclusions.
Over the past few days, we have seen numerous statements by allies committing to Finland and Sweden's security. NATO is already vigilant in the Baltic Sea region. And NATO and allied forces will continue to adapt as necessary. All of us agree on the importance of NATO [? enlargement. ?] We all agree that we must stand together. And we all agree that this is an historic moment which we must seize. So thank you. It's great to see you both. So please.