On Thursday, leaders of Sweden and Finland met US President Joe Biden at the White House after submitting their NATO membership applications on Wednesday.
Here’s what you need to know about what the leaders said at the Rose Garden press conference after meeting in the Cabinet Room.
Biden offers ‘strong support’ for Finland and Sweden’s NATO bids
“Finnish and Swedish troops, they have already served shoulder to shoulder with US and NATO forces in Kosovo, in Afghanistan and in Iraq. And both Finland and Sweden are already working with the United States and our other allies and partners to support the brave people of Ukraine,” Biden said, adding that the countries already meet all NATO requirements, “and then some.”
Biden’s government will submit reports to the US Congress on this NATO accession for both countries
This is “so that the Senate can proceed efficiently and quickly to advise and agree to the treaty,” Biden announced on Thursday. Within the US, at least two-thirds of the Senate must vote to approve new member states in the defensive alliance. Likewise, the legislatures of all 30 current members must approve new NATO candidates.
Leaders of Finland and Sweden expressed their hopes for speedy ratification
“Russia’s war in Ukraine has changed Europe and our security environment. Finland is taking the step towards NATO membership not only to strengthen its own security, but also to strengthen transatlantic security more broadly,” said Finnish President Sauli Niinistö .
Finland shares an 800-mile border with Russia.
The Swedish government “has come to the conclusion that the security of the Swedish people is best protected within the NATO alliance, and this is supported by very broad support in the Swedish parliament,” Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said.
Turkey was also mentioned by every leader
As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated earlier on Thursday, his country will “say no to Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO”.
In explanation, he cited concerns about national security. Earlier this week, Erdogan accused both countries of harboring Kurdish “terrorist organizations”.
He referred in particular to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is striving for an independent state in Turkey. The group has been engaged in armed struggle with Ankara for decades and has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.