President Joe Biden on May 19 wholeheartedly backed the bids of Finland and Sweden for North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) membership, saying the two countries meet every requirement for joining the alliance.
“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 in prepared remarks in the White House’s Rose Garden.
Having two new members in northern Europe “will enhance the security of our alliance and deepen our security cooperation across the board,” he added.
Biden was speaking after meeting with Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in Washington. He said both countries “have the full, total complete backing of the United States of America.” The White House was planning to submit on Thursday reports on NATO accession for the countries to the Senate so senators could quickly greenlight the bids, which were lodged this week.
A bipartisan majority of senators have already signaled support.
Niinistö told the crowd that joining NATO has drawn strong support in his country following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and called the United States a key backer during the process.
“We hope for strong support from all allies, and for a swift ratification of our membership,” he said.
Turkish officials have suggested they may block the bids. Niinistö said Finnish officials are open to discussing Turkey’s concerns.
In Finland, the proposal to join NATO was approved by the parliament by 188 members, and opposed by just eight. In Sweden, the proposal drew support from seven out of nine parties, which represent more than 300 of the 349 members of parliament.
While Finland already spends 2 percent of its gross domestic product on its military—a requirement of the alliance—Sweden only spends 1.3 percent.
Sweden plans to reach the 2 percent level “as soon as practically possible,” Andersson said.
The prime minister said the situation in Ukraine “reminds us of the darkest days of European history” and that “during dark times, it is great to be among close friends.”
The Russian invasion “was a watershed moment” for Sweden, she added, with Swedes coming to the conclusion that the country would be best protected from within NATO.
“After 200 years of military non-alignment, Sweden has chosen a new path,” she said.
From The Epoch Times