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3 Apr, 2023 15:29

Stoltenberg announces Finland’s NATO accession date

The Nordic country will officially join the US-led military bloc following ratification by Türkiye
Stoltenberg announces Finland’s NATO accession date

Finland will officially become the 31st member of NATO on Tuesday, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced in a statement on Monday.

“This is a historic week,” Stoltenberg told reporters on the eve of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers. “From tomorrow, Finland will be a full member of the alliance,” he said, adding that “it will be a good day for Finland’s security, for Nordic security, and for NATO as a whole.”

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen are expected to attend the accession ceremony in Brussels along with Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, who vowed to emphasize NATO’s support to Ukraine during the meeting.

The move comes just three days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed ratification of the Nordic country’s entrance into the organization. This ends a protracted accession process that began last summer when Finland and Sweden abandoned their traditional position of neutrality and applied to join NATO, citing concerns of possible Russian aggression.

Türkiye had objected to the bids by Helsinki and Stockholm citing their alleged support of “terrorist groups.” Last month, however, Erdogan praised Finland’s “authentic and concrete steps” to address Turkish security concerns. He has yet to give a clear indication as to when Ankara will ratify Sweden’s request to join the bloc.

Moscow, meanwhile, has reacted to Finland’s accession to NATO by stating that Russia will have no choice but to reinforce its military potential on the Western and North Western borders in response. “In the event that forces and assets of other NATO members are deployed in Finland, we will take additional steps to reliably ensure Russia’s military security," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told RIA Novosti on Monday.

Last month, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow “regrets” Finland’s and Sweden’s decision to join the US-led bloc, stating that Russia “does not pose any threat to these countries, since it does not have any disputes with them.”