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Nato chief: Finland and Sweden should join together

The joint air defence initiative "European Sky Shield" was also signed by 15 countries, including Finland, on Thursday.

Naton pääsihteeri Jens Stoltenberg kommentoi Suomen ja Ruotsin Nato-jäsenyyttä.
Naton pääsihteeri Jens Stoltenberg kommentoi Suomen ja Ruotsin Nato-jäsenyyttä.
Yle News

In an interview with Yle, Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg offered his assessment of the accession process for Finland and Sweden to join Nato following a meeting of the alliance's defence ministers.

"Nato members made a historic decision in the summer at the Madrid summit, when they invited Finland and Sweden to apply for membership. So far, the application process has progressed the fastest in Nato's history. The parliaments of 28 out of 30 countries have ratified the application in their national parliaments," Stoltenberg told Yle.

In order for Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance, the legislatures of all 30 Nato member states need to ratify the Nordic countries' accession. Hungary and Turkey are the remaining countries that have not yet done so.

"I am aware that two are missing. We are working with them to make it happen as quickly as possible. I don't want to speculate on when that will happen. We are aware of Turkey's concerns regarding terrorism. Finland and Sweden take them into account, and the countries are implementing the mechanism they agreed on in Madrid," Stoltenberg stated, adding that, "dialogue takes place at different levels".

Finland was represented at the meeting by Minister of Defence Antti Kaikkonen (Centre), who noted that Hungary would support Finland joining the alliance.

After speaking with his Hungarian counterpart, Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczkyn, Kaikkonen said he was told that after a seasonal recess, the Hungarian Parliament would ratify Finland's accession.

"My colleague assured me that Hungary supports Finland's Nato membership, and the matter will progress," Kaikkonen told reporters in Brussels.

"Finland and Sweden together"

Stoltenberg also offered his position on Finland and Sweden joining separately, as Turkey has previously suggested.

"Finland and Sweden applied for membership together. We invited them to the summit in Madrid, where the accession document was signed together. The parliaments of 28 countries have ratified it for both countries. We will continue our work to ensure that the two remaining members ratify the membership of Finland and Sweden together," the secretary general assured.

European Sky Shield

On Thursday, Reuters reported (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that 15 countries— most of them Nato members—would jointly procure air defence systems in a scheme dubbed, "European Sky Shield". On behalf of Finland, Kaikkonen signed the initiative on Thursday.

Stoltenberg said he was happy to see the European Sky Shield come to fruition.

"It is a welcome initiative. This has been done before in Nato to cut costs and increase cooperation. The war in Ukraine has shown the importance of air defence. The new system is compatible with Nato's current air defence, so Nato airspace will become even safer," the Nato secretary general emphasised.

"The purpose of the initiative is to speed up and facilitate the acquisition processes of defence materiel acquisitions and to examine cooperation opportunities during their life cycle," a press release from the Finnish Ministry of Defence stated.

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