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Finnish president: Nato ratification process going "more quickly than anticipated"

President Sauli Niinistö spoke with Yle about Finland's and Sweden's Nato bids, a day after the US ratified their applications.

President Sauli Niinistö at the official summer residence in Naantali on Thursday. Image: Jani Saikko / Yle

Reacting to the United States Senate's ratification of Finland and Sweden's Nato membership bid, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said on Thursday that the process was moving briskly.

The Senate's ratification made the US the 23rd of Nato's 30 member states to approve the Nordic countries' membership over the course of a few months.

In a vote of 95-1 on Wednesday, the Senate approved to admit Finland and Sweden into Nato.

"I think [the membership process] has progressed even more quickly than previously anticipated. For example, in the case of the US, some thought the autumn mid-term elections might postpone the [ratification vote]. It went bewilderingly fast in the US, as well as in the 22 countries which have ratified it," Niinistö told Yle on Thursday afternoon.

The Finnish president noted that the ratification is also an expression of will that — according to the US — Finland and Sweden are welcomed to protections offered in Nato's Article 5.

That clause in the North Atlantic treaty means that an armed attack on a single alliance member is considered an attack against all members and are compelled to defend it.

But Niinistö pointed out that, because full Nato membership is needed for those protections, such security guarantees are not yet in place for the two Nordic countries.

"I'm not terribly anxious, at least. Our discussions with Turkey will continue," Niinistö said, referring to demands made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has said that his country would freeze Finland and Sweden's Nato bids if Ankara's promises are not met.

Niinistö said that he would not try to predict how much longer it will take for the remaining Nato members to vote on the matter.

"Yes, the process has gone well so far, and it will continue. I believe there will be more ratifications soon," he said.