NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the requests from Sweden and Finland, saying ”this is a good day, at a critical moment for our security.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met with Finland and Sweden's ambassadors to NATO on Wednesday 18 May, as the ambassadors submitted the countries applications to join NATO.
Stoltenberg said that he warmly welcomes the application and that 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", said the Secretary General.
He called the applications an historic step;
"Allies will now consider the next steps on your 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’s and Sweden’s security", said Stoltenberg.
He added that NATO is already vigilant in the Baltic Sea region, and NATO and Allies’ forces will continue to adapt as necessary.
"All Allies 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", stated Jens Stoltenberg.
No support from Turkey
Despite broad agreement in NATO that the two Nordic countries are wanted into the alliance, Turkey's position is an element of uncertainty. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he will not support Sweden and Finland's applications, calling the countries a "free port" for terrorist organizations.
Even if Turkey supports Sweden and Finland's membership, the process is expected to take some time. But due to the security situation in Europe, however, NATO aims to make the time from Sweden and Finland apply until they become members of the Defense Pact as short as possible.