NATO chief says Finland, Sweden will be welcomed quickly

NATO chief says Finland, Sweden will be welcomed quickly

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attends the second round table at the meeting of NATO Ministers of Defence in Brussels on October 21, 2021 KENZO TRIBOUILLAED AFP BRUSSELS - Applications by Finland and Sweden to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will be processed quickly if the Scandinavian countries choose to do so, the military alliance's secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.

If they decide to apply, Finland and Sweden will be welcomed with open arms to NATO. Stoltenberg told reporters at the European Parliament in Stockholm that Finland and Sweden are our closest partners.

Both Sweden and Finland have pursued a policy of military non-alignment for a long time. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, NATO has failed several times to win over the two countries.

The two countries have made some changes to their positions in the face of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, delivering weapons and ammunition to Ukraine.

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Their armed forces are interoperable with NATO forces, and they meet NATO standards. Stoltenberg said that we train together, we exercise together and we have also worked together with Finland and Sweden in many different missions and operations.

He also addressed the security of Finland and Sweden during the interim period between the two countries' potential applications and the date when they become actual members of the organization, saying that we will be able to find arrangements so that no uncertainty is left.

The two countries' potential application for NATO membership has been under the spotlight since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, as they are both neighbors of Russia. Finland shares a 1,340 km border with Russia.

When asked about the possibility of the countries joining NATO, Dmitry Peskov, press secretary of Russian President Vladimir Putin, told reporters earlier this month that a further expansion of NATO, including the admission of Finland and Sweden, will not contribute to security in Europe.

The alliance is a tool sharpened for the confrontation. This is not an alliance that ensures peace and stability. The Kremlin spokesman said that further expansion of the alliance will not bring additional security to the European continent.