Mr Biden says Sweden and Finland’s bids for Nato membership have the ‘full, total complete backing of the United States of America’
President Joe Biden on Thursday offered the “strong support” of the United States to Finland and Sweden in the two historically neutral Nordic nations’ bids to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, calling the occasion a ‘very, very good day’.
Speaking in the White House Rose Garden alongside Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, Mr Biden said he and his advisers have been closely consulting with both leaders “at every stage” as each determined whether to join the alliance in the wake of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
“Today I’m proud to assure them that they have the full, total complete backing of the United States of America,” said Mr Biden, who added that his administration will submit to Congress the reports required for the Senate to ratify both countries’ accessions to Nato.
“Sweden and Finland have strong democratic institutions, strong militaries and strong and transparent economies and a strong moral sense of what is right,” he said. “They meet every Nato requirement, and then some having two new Nato members in the High North will enhance the security of our alliances and deepen our security cooperation across the board”.
The addition of the two Nordic countries to the Nato alliance would mark a major turning point in the history of both countries, which have long traditions of neutrality, though both Sweden and Finland have strong ties to the West and have cooperated with Nato on defence matters for years.
Mr Biden noted that both countries are strong democracies that are joining the alliance “because their citizens demanded it”.
“Countries must demonstrate that they meet NATO’s high standards for military and operability economic transparency and democratic accountability. That’s what Sweden and Finland have done,” he said.
Mr Niinistö thanked Mr Biden for “making history” him and Ms Andersson, and said Finland takes its’ security “very seriously”.
He noted that Finland’s forces are “ready” to commit to the security of the entire Nato alliance, “making the commitment to mutual security guarantees” required by membership.
“We hope for strong support from all allies, and for swift ratification of our membership,” he said, adding that he believes the US can “set a crucially important example to others” by approving his country’s application quickly.
Ms Andersson noted that Sweden and the United States have a “deep and longstanding friendship” dating back to 1783, when Sweden first recognised the US as an independent nation, but warned that both countries “shared values and beliefs in democracy and freedom” are “now being put to the test” by the invasion of Ukraine, which she said “reminds us of the darkest days of European history”.
“I must say that during dark times, it is great to be among close friends, and over these past months we have shown transatlantic unity and strength at its best,” she said.
Ms Andersson also thanked Mr Biden for the “massive US support” provided to Ukraine and his “sustained engagement in European society” and observed that she and Mr Niinistö were at the White House “at a historic moment” for both nations.
“After 200 years of military non alignment, Sweden has chosen a new path,” she said, calling Russia’s “full scale aggression against a sovereign and democratic neighbor” a “watershed moment” for her country.