Finnish President Sauli Niinisto: Sweden’s security in order if Finland joins NATO first

HELSINKI – Sweden will not find itself in a vulnerable security situation even if Finland joins NATO first, the Finnish president said on Sunday, as both Nordic candidate countries negotiate bilateral military pacts with the United States.

“It is possible that Finland will join NATO before Sweden,” said Finnish President Sauli Niinistö in an interview published by Swedish public broadcaster SVT on Sunday. “Should we have rejected Turkey’s offer of ratification? That sounds a little crazy. It would have been a terribly difficult situation if we had said ‘no’ to Ankara.”

Niinistö referred to his Friday visit to Ankara, where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government would proceed with ratifying Finland’s NATO bid and pave the way for the country to join the military bloc, but Sweden’s bid before Ankara disputes did not would ratify and Stockholm are resolved.

Both Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership 10 months ago after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, abandoning decades of non-alignment.

NATO needs the unanimous approval of its 30 existing members to expand, and Turkey and Hungary are the only countries yet to ratify the Nordic duo’s bids.

Many Swedish security experts agree that if Sweden’s NATO accession talks with Turkey drag on for a longer period of time, this would put Stockholm in a militarily vulnerable position in the Baltic Sea region.

PHOTOS: Niinistö: Sweden’s security in order if Finland joins NATO first

Niinistö said that Finland, Sweden and Denmark are currently holding separate talks with the United States on security issues to try to reach a bilateral military pact similar to the one Norway previously struck with Washington.

“I think it’s a big change, almost bigger than NATO membership,” Niinistö said of ongoing talks with the US when asked what will happen to Sweden’s security if talks on NATO membership drag on . “It means a lot if we (the Nordic countries) all have a direct and fairly similar (military) agreement with the United States.”

Since announcing their intention to join NATO in May 2022, Finland and Sweden have pledged to join the western military alliance at the same time.

Niinistö told SVT that the Nordic neighbors are determined to join NATO “while it’s in our hands, but the ratification of Finland’s NATO membership is in the hands of Turkey and Hungary.”

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