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Biden Offers Support for Sweden and Finland to Join NATO 

Last Thursday, President Biden received the leaders of Finland and Sweden in the White House, and he encouraged the once neutral countries to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö were said to “meet every NATO requirement and then some.” Biden went on to tell reporters that Stockholm and Helsinki have the complete backing of Washington as they apply for NATO membership. 

“Having two new NATO members in the high north will enhance the security of our alliances and deepen our security cooperation across the board,” Biden assured. 

Although previously neutral, Swedish and Finnish leaders have expressed their fears of Russian aggression after the invasion of Ukraine, this being their driving factor behind their push to join the US-led bloc. Swedish prime minister said the invasion of Ukraine pushed her country to reassess its historical policy of non-alignment.

NATO countries have a defense pact whereby an attack on one member is considered an attack on all. Biden has announced that he is submitting reports on NATO accession for the two countries to the Senate, so lawmakers can approve the move “efficiently and quickly”. 

This approval is a necessary step towards their inclusion. The US Senate needs to approve new NATO members by two-thirds of the votes in the 100-member legislative chamber. With bipartisan support for this alliance, the European countries’ application is not expected to be held back in Congress.

However, their inclusion also requires unanimous approval of all 30 NATO members. This is where their bids could face trouble, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has voiced his opposition to admitting the two countries. Just yesterday, he pronounced that his government “will say no” to Sweden and Finland’s NATO bids. “We will keep following this path,” he said.

The reason behind Turkey’s resistance is that they believe the European nations were harboring “terrorists”, referring to the Gulen movement and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which are believed to be behind the failed coup against Erdoğan’s government 6 years ago. 

Finland’s President, Sauli Niinistö, made his support of Turkey public. “We take terrorism seriously,” Finland’s President said. “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.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had met Turkish State Secretary Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu at the United Nations on Wednesday when both countries committed to strengthening bilateral ties. 

That same day, when Biden was asked about Turkish resistance to the NATO expansion efforts, he replied, “We’re going to be OK.”

Biden’s administration has been optimistic about Sweden and Finland’s applications to join the alliance, which would mark a significant step against Russia. 

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Wednesday that Finland and Sweden were working with Turkey to address the country’s concerns, and that the U.S. was also speaking with Turkish officials in hopes of facilitating a resolution.

“You’ve got a raucous collection of states that all have opinions, that all have perspectives, that all have interests,” Sullivan said. “But they also know how to and when to pull together and how to settle any differences. And I expect these differences will be settled.”


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