Biden Delivers Remarks in Support of Sweden and Finland's NATO Applications

US President Joe Biden gave remarks supporting Sweden’s and Finland’s applications to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) during a press conference held at the White House in Washington on May 19.

Biden hosted Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto at the White House on Thursday to discuss the “mutual security guarantees” of the NATO alliance amid the threat of escalation from Russia as it continues its offensive in Ukraine.

“Both Finland and Sweden are already working in coordination with the United States and our other allies and partners to support the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their freedom against Russia’s invasion,” Biden said.

“We have consulted closely at every stage, as Sweden and Finland made their determination [to apply to NATO], and today I’m proud to assure them that they have the full, total, complete backing of the United States of America …. New members joining NATO is not a threat to any nation, it never has been. NATO’s purpose is to defend against aggression,” Biden said.

Niinisto spoke on Turkey’s concerns over Finland’s potential NATO membership, assuring that Finland is committed to mutual security interests, and reiterated support for the people of Ukraine.

Andersson spoke on the shared values and beliefs of democracy and freedom between the United States and Sweden, which she said are “being put to the test.”

Andersson said, “During dark times, it is great to be among close friends.” Credit: The White House via Storyful

Video transcript

JOE BIDEN: Today I'm proud to welcome and offer the strong support of the United States for the applications of two great democracies and two close, highly capable partners, to join the strongest, most powerful defensive alliance in the history of the world-- two proud, independent countries exercising the sovereign right all states possess to decide their own security.

President Niinistom and Prime Minister Andersson, it's a great honor to have both of you here at the White House as Finland and Sweden begin the process of joining NATO. In recent years, doubts began to arise. Was NATO still relevant? Was it still effective? Is it still needed in the 21st century world?

Today, there is no question. NATO is relevant. It is effective. And is more needed now than ever. And both Finland and Sweden are already working in coordination with the United States and our other allies and partners to support the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their freedom against Russia's invasion. We have consulted closely at every stage as Sweden and Finland made their determinations.

And today, I'm proud to assure them that they have the full, total, complete backing of the United States of America. Today, my administration is submitting to the United States Congress reports on NATO accession for both countries so the Senate can efficiently and quickly move on advising and consenting to the treaty.

By joining NATO, allies make a sacred commitment to one another that an attack on one is an attack against all. It's Article V of the Washington Treaty and the core building block of our alliance. And the only time in history Article V has been invoked was after 9/11 when the United States was attacked and all our allies rallied to our side.

The United States will never forget that. And we will never fail in our pledge to defend every single inch of NATO territory. New members joining NATO is not a threat to any nation. It never has been. NATO's purpose is to defend against aggression. That's its purpose, to defend. NATO's door remains open.

In just a few minutes, I'll be leaving to spend time with two of our Indo-Pacific allies. In a half hour or so I'll be flying to the Republic of Korea and Japan. I thank the president and the prime minister for traveling here for this meeting before I take off because it is so important. America's alliances in Europe and in Asia keep us, and I would argue the world, strong and secure.

SAULI NIINISTO: The Turkish leadership has recently expressed concerns about our membership application. I want to address these concerns today. Finland has always had broad and good bilateral relations to Turkey. As NATO allies, we will commit to Turkey's security just as Turkey will commit to our security.

We take terrorism seriously. We condemn terrorism in all its forms. And we are actively engaged in combating it. We are open to discussing all the concerns Turkey may have concerning our membership in an open and constructive manner. These discussions have already taken place. And they will continue in the next days.

24th February, I said that the masks have fallen. And we see only the cold faces of war. Russia's war in Ukraine has changed Europe and our security environment. Finland takes the step of NATO membership in order to strengthen not only its own security, but also in order to strengthen wider Trans-Atlantic security.

This is not away from anybody. Like you, Mr. President, said, NATO is protective, defensive, not a threat to anybody. At the same time, we must not forget that at this very moment, the great people of Ukraine are fighting not only for their own freedom and democracy, but for our common security. Finland, together with the EU and the United States, stands firmly behind Ukraine.

So Mr. President, once again, I want to thank you for making history with us. Thank you.

JOE BIDEN: Thank you.

MAGDALENA ANDERSSON: Mr. President, thank you for welcoming President Niinisto and me to the White House. The bonds between Sweden and the United States, they are strong and long standing. And as you know, Swedes first set foot in your home state of Delaware in 1638. And we were one of the first countries to recognize the United States as an independent nation in 1783.

And since then, our countries have developed a deep and long standing friendship through family ties, trade, and mutual interests. And I personally-- it's very much one part of this. But most of all, our shared values and beliefs in democracy and freedom-- values and beliefs that are now being put to the test.

And today, the situation in Ukraine reminds us of the darkest days of European history. And I must say that during dark times, it is great to be among close friends. President Niinisto and I have come here at a historic moment for our countries. And for Sweden, after 200 years of military non-alignment, Sweden has chosen a new path.

And with Sweden and Finland as members, NATO will also be stronger. We are security providers with sophisticated defense capabilities. And we are champions of freedom, democracy, and human rights.

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