According to both Iltalehti and Expressen, two tabloid newspapers from Finland and Sweden respectively, Sweden’s government has asked for Finland to delay their announcement so that the two countries can announce their intention to join simultaneously, in the week when Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö is due to make a state visit to Stockholm.
While Iltalehti, which first reported the claim, did not say where its information came from, Expressen said the timing of the announcement had been confirmed by “government sources”.
If the stories are correct, the timing will be tight, with the Swedish government’s new assessment of the security only due to be published on May 13th, the Friday before the claimed week for the announcement.
When Finland’s parliament debated the country’s security options last week, several leading MPs and ministers stressed the importance of taking the decision in step with Sweden, although they also emphasised that each of the two countries should be free to make their own decision.
According to a story in the Aftonbladet newspaper, Sweden has been given assurances by the USA and Great Britain that if it is attacked during the period between applying to join Nato and becoming a member, they will come to the country’s defence.
“The government has received information from both the USA and Great Britain on how protection and support would look during a coming application process,” a government source told the newspaper.
According to the newspaper, the support would come in the form of increased military presence near to Sweden, military exercises, and “strong political support” from Nato countries.