Niinistö: Sweden’s security is fine if Finland joins NATO first

Finland’s president says he doesn’t believe Sweden will be in a vulnerable security situation, although neighboring Finland is likely to join NATO first

HELSINKI — Sweden will not be in a vulnerable security situation even if Finland joins NATO first, the Finnish president said on Sunday, as both Scandinavian candidate countries negotiate a bilateral military pact with the United States.

“It is possible that Finland will join NATO before Sweden,” Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said in an interview with Swedish public broadcaster SVT on Sunday. “Should we have rejected Turkey’s ratification offer? That sounds a bit crazy. It’s a terribly difficult situation if we would have said no to Ankara.”

Niinistö was referring to his visit to Ankara on Friday, where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government would move forward with ratifying Finland’s NATO application, paving the way for it to join the military bloc, but would not ratify Sweden’s application amid disputes between Ankara and Turkey. and Stockholm is solved.

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Finland and Sweden both applied for NATO membership 10 months ago, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, abandoning their decades-long withdrawal.

The expansion requires unanimous approval from NATO’s 30 existing member states, and Turkey and Hungary are the only countries that have yet to ratify the Nordic duo’s bid.

If Sweden’s NATO membership negotiations with Turkey drag on for a long time, many Swedish security policy experts agree that it would put Stockholm in a vulnerable military position in the Baltic Sea region.

Niinistö said that Finland, Sweden and Denmark are currently holding separate talks with the United States on security issues with a view to establishing a bilateral military agreement similar to the one Norway previously had with Washington.

“I think it’s a big change, almost bigger than NATO membership,” Niinistö said of the talks with the United States when asked what would happen to Sweden’s security if NATO accession talks were delayed. “It means a lot if all of us (Scandinavian countries) have a direct and fairly similar (military) agreement with the United States.”

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Since announcing their intention to join NATO in May 2022, Finland and Sweden have agreed to join the Western military alliance at the same time.

Niinistö told SVT that the northern neighbors have decided to “join NATO hand in hand as long as it is in our hands, but the ratification of Finland’s NATO membership is in the hands of Turkey and Hungary.”