Sweden and Finland agree to make Nato announcement next month, reports say

Sweden and Finland have agreed to both announce their intention to join Nato in the week beginning May 16th, newspapers in the two countries have reported.

Sweden and Finland agree to make Nato announcement next month, reports say
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson (left) and Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin at a European Council meeting in March. Photo: Roni Rekomaa/Lehtikuva/ AFP

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. 

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Erdogan signals no progress on Sweden’s NATO bid

Erdogan signalled on Saturday that no progress had been made in Sweden's bid to join NATO, urging Stockholm to take "concrete actions" to meet Ankara's concerns, his office said.

Erdogan signals no progress on Sweden's NATO bid

In a phone call with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Erdogan reiterated that “Sweden should take steps regarding such fundamental matters as combatting terrorism”, the Turkish presidency said in a statement.

Turkey “wanted to see binding commitments on these issues together with concrete and clear action,” he added.

Finland and Sweden discussed their stalled NATO bids with Turkey in Brussels on Monday, but Ankara dampened hopes that their dispute will be resolved before an alliance summit next week.

Turkish officials said Ankara does not view the summit as a final deadline for resolving Ankara’s objections. Ankara has accused Finland and in particular Sweden of providing a safe haven for outlawed Kurdish militants whose decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Erdogan told Andersson that Sweden “should make concrete changes in its attitude” toward the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliates, the presidency said.

“In this regard no tangible action aimed at addressing Turkey’s concerns was seen to have been taken by Sweden”, it added.

READ ALSO: Hopes fade for Sweden’s swift Nato accession

The Turkish leader also voiced expectations that Sweden would lift an arms embargo against Turkey that Stockholm imposed in 2019 over Ankara’s military offensive in Syria.

He also said he hopes that restrictions on Turkey’s defence industry would be lifted, and that Sweden will extradite several people Ankara has accused of involvement in terrorism.

The phone call comes after Erdogan discussed the two countries’ bid with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg. Erdogan also told Stoltenberg that “Sweden and Finland should take concrete and sincere steps” against outlawed Kurdish militants, the presidency said.