The President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, has recently stated his trust in Finland and Sweden’s admission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) by July this year. He also hinted at seeking pressure from the United States on Turkey to approve their membership bids. The NATO summit will take place in Vilnius, Lithuania on July 11-12.
To become a member of NATO, unanimous approval is required from existing members. Currently, Turkey and Hungary are the only nations in the 30-member military alliance that have not formally endorsed the membership of Finland and Sweden. Hungary has pledged to do so in February, while Turkey has not yet shown any willingness to ratify their accession. President Niinistö stressed that the final decision lies with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
However, Niinistö believes that if the issue of Finland and Sweden’s membership drags on, the entire process of admitting new members into NATO will become questionable. He stated, “If it doesn’t happen by the Vilnius meeting, why should it happen afterwards?”
Turkey has been delaying the approval of Finland and Sweden’s membership due to various reasons, including recent demonstrations in Stockholm where activists burned the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy and hanged an effigy of President Erdogan. In January, Turkey indefinitely postponed a crucial meeting in Brussels that was supposed to discuss the entry of the two Nordic countries into NATO.
President Niinistö shared that Finland and Sweden received encouraging statements from NATO last spring about a smooth and painless process of membership. However, he mentioned that this did not happen and the delay has become a problem not only for the two applicant countries but for NATO as well. He stated, “I can see that this has already become a problem for NATO. Clearly, NATO countries have also been surprised.”
President Niinistö seeks the support of the United States in pressuring Turkey for the approval of Finland and Sweden’s membership in NATO. He believes that the delay in their admission has become a problem not only for the applicant countries but for the alliance as well. The NATO summit in July will be a crucial opportunity to resolve this issue and ensure the smooth and successful admission of new members into the organization.