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NATO

Biden gives ‘full, total, complete backing’ for Swedish Nato bid

US President Joe Biden on Thursday strongly backed Finland and Sweden's bid to join Nato in the face of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, as the Nordic nations' leaders promised to address concerns raised by Turkey.

Biden gives 'full, total, complete backing' for Swedish Nato bid
US President Joe Biden and Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson arrive to speak in the Rose Garden following a meeting at the White House. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP

With the red-carpet pomp of a White House visit, Biden welcomed Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto days after they formally announced their NATO aspirations and said he was submitting their applications to the US Congress, where there is bipartisan support for ratification.

“The bottom line is simple. Quite straightforward: Finland and Sweden make Nato stronger,” Biden said, offering the “full, total, complete backing of the United States of America.”

“Sweden and Finland have strong democratic institutions, strong militaries and strong and transparent economies, and a strong moral sense of what is right,” Biden said with the two leaders at his side in the White House Rose Garden.

“They meet every NATO requirement, and then some,” Biden told assembled reporters without taking any questions.

Sweden and Finland, while solidly Western, have historically kept a distance from Nato as part of longstanding policies aimed at avoiding angering Russia.

But the two nations both moved ahead amid shock over their giant neighbour’s invasion of Ukraine, which had unsuccessfully sought to join Nato.

With Russia voicing anger over the Natuo bids, Biden said he told the Nordic leaders that the United States would “remain vigilant against the threats to our shared security.”

The United States will work to “deter and confront any aggression while Finland and Sweden are in this accession process,” Biden said. Drawing an implicit contrast to his predecessor Donald Trump, Biden called Nato’s mutual defense promise a “sacred commitment.”

“We will never fail in our pledge to defend every single inch of Nato territory,” Biden said.

Addressing Turkish concerns

But membership requires consent of all 30 existing members and Turkey has voiced misgivings. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the two nations of backing “terrorism,” a reference to the presence in Finland and especially Sweden of Kurdish militants from the separatist PKK.

Addressing Turkey, Niinisto said Finland was “open to discussing all the concerns that you may have concerning our membership in an open and constructive manner.”

“We take terrorism seriously. We condemn terrorism in all its forms and we are actively engaged in combating it,” Niinisto said.
Andersson said that Sweden is hoping for a “swift ratification process by Nato members.”

“We are right now having a dialogue with all Nato member countries, including Turkey, on different levels to sort out any issues at hand,” she said.

Until Turkey’s objections, US officials voiced hope for ratification in time for a Nato summit next month in Madrid.

Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate who frequently fights Biden’s agenda, said he would seek quick action on the bids by Sweden and Finland. He noted that Finland already commits two percent of its GDP to defence and that Sweden “is on pace to reach that target very soon” — a threshold backed by Nato and long pushed by Washington.

“These nations are setting an example which current treaty allies would do well to follow,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “So I’ll be proud to continue amplifying their case for accession however I can.”

Member comments

  1. So what , and why do you think this is so important ? Biden is not the President of Turkey which will block the membership bid so why keep writing about irrelevant news .

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NATO

Turkey drops objections to Sweden joining Nato

Turkey has dropped its objections to Sweden and Finland joining Nato, paving the way for the two Nordic nations to join the North Atlantic defence alliance.

Turkey drops objections to Sweden joining Nato

“We have reached an agreement between Sweden, Turkey and Finland which means that Turkey now accepts that we will be granted invitee status in Nato. That’s important, as it will improve Sweden’s security,” Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said after a meeting in Madrid with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“It was a very long meeting and Sauli Niinistö and I could describe all the measures we in Sweden have taken regarding terrorism legislation in recent years, and now on July 1st we are tightening that legislation significantly,” Andersson added.

The process of joining Nato requires the approval of all 30 existing members. Turkey had set out a string of demands, including the extradition of what it claims are Kurdish terrorists living in Sweden and a relaxation of Sweden’s ban on selling arms to Turkey. 

In a press release, Nato said that the foreign ministers of Turkey, Sweden and Finland had all signed a trilateral memorandum (find copy here) which addressed “Türkiye’s legitimate security concerns”. 

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Nato leaders would as a result now be able to issue a formal invitation to Sweden and Finland to join the alliance. 

“I’m pleased to announce that we now have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join Nato. Turkey, Finland and Sweden have signed a memorandum that addresses Turkey’s concerns, including around arms exports,
and the fight against terrorism,” he said. 

As aspiring Nato members, he added, Finland and Sweden would not give support to the PYD, the Democratic Union Party of Syria, which runs the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, and would not support the Gülen movement. 

The agreement commits Sweden and Finland to not supporting the PYD, but only classes the PKK as a terrorist organisation. Turkey has previously insisted on describing the PKK/PYD as a single entity. 

The deal also covers the export of Swedish weapons to Turkey. Sweden has not exported weapons to Turkey in recent years, a decision Turkey interprets as an arms embargo. 

“Turkey, Finland and Sweden confirm that there are no national arms embargoes between them. Sweden is changing its national regulatory framework for arms exports in relation to Nato allies,” the document reads. “In future, defence exports from Finland and Sweden will be conducted in accordance with Alliance solidarity and the letter and spirit of Article 3 of the Washington Treaty.”

“If we become Nato members, of course this will have repercussions on how we interpret Swedish weapons exports legislation,” Andersson conceded at the press conference.  

According to Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper, Säpo, Sweden’s security police, has drawn up a list of “at least ten” people living in Sweden with links to the Kurdish PKK terror organisation, who can be extradited to Turkey. 

According to the newspaper’s government source, two people with PKK links have already been extradited to Turkey this year, and more could follow.

However, Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö stressed to reporters at the press conference that the trilateral deal does not name any individuals who Turkey wants extradited. Instead the agreement commits Sweden and Finland to handling extradition requests “expeditiously and thoroughly”. 

Sweden’s foreign minister, Ann Linde, sent out a celebratory tweet shortly after the announcement. 

She said that the two countries would then start formal accession talks in Brussels next week after which Sweden would officially become a Nato invitee. 

READ ALSO: The next five steps to a Swedish Nato membership

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