As tensions rise in eastern Europe following Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, Finland and Sweden both announced intentions to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on Sunday.
Despite threats of retaliation from Russia, Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin made the announcement at a press conference, saying that the move must be ratified by parliament before seeking members to join the alliance.
Niinistö had also called Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday about Finland’s aims for NATO.
In a press release, Niinistö said “that every independent nation maximizes its security,” and that by joining NATO Finland “strengthens its own security and assumes its responsibility.”
Meanwhile, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said she will seek to join NATO on Monday, after her Social Democratic party dropped its opposition.
The party’s website said that if the application is granted by NATO, they will work on conditions against the placement of nuclear weapons and permanent bases on Swedish territory.
While NATO officials applauded the news, NATO member Turkey expressed some reservations about both countries’ desire to join the alliance.
Turkey’s foreign minister said Sunday that Sweden and Finland must stop supporting terrorist groups in their countries, provide clear security guarantees and lift export bans on Turkey if they seek NATO membership.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Finland and Sweden of housing Kurdish “terrorist originations.”
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said that Finland has been active in the coalition against ISIL.
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