Biden greets Swedish and Finnish leaders at the White House

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Washington – President Biden welcomed the Swedish leaders on Thursday and Finland to the White House as he hailed applications Accession of once neutral countries to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in response to Russia’s invasion Ukraine.

Mr. Biden greeted Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, who met at the White House for tripartite talks on the NATO mutual defense pact and broader European security concerns, with handshakes and laughter. His administration has expressed optimism about its applications to join the alliance, which would be a significant embarrassment for Russia, despite Turkey’s continued opposition.

“I am proud today to welcome and offer strong support in the United States for the practices of two great democracies and two close, highly capable partners to join the strongest, strongest defense alliance in world history,” Biden said. said the leader, after escorting his friends to the Rose Garden.

“They meet every NATO requirement and then some,” he said, “and having two new NATO members in the high north will increase the security of our alliance.”

“I am proud to assure them that they have the full, complete, full support of the United States,” he added.

President Biden, accompanied by Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, speaks in the Rose Garden after a meeting held at the White House on May 19, 2022.

MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded that the alliance stop its expansion into Russia’s borders, and several NATO allies, led by the United States and Britain, have signaled their readiness to provide security support to Finland and Sweden if the Kremlin tries to provoke or destabilize them. for the time required to become a full member.

Finland and Sweden, which were neutral during the Cold War, now cooperate closely with NATO. Countries will only benefit from NATO’s Article 5 security guarantee once the membership approval process is complete – part of the alliance’s founding agreement, which pledges that any attack on a member will be considered an attack on all of them. Public opinion in Finland and Sweden has largely shifted in favor of membership since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Each of NATO’s 30 member states has the power to veto its membership proposal, as the pact must agree on decisions. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a video released Thursday that he opposes the two countries joining the alliance.

Speaking to a group of Turkish youth in the video he organized for the Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports, Erdogan said, “We told our related friends that we would say ‘no’ to Finland and Sweden joining NATO, and we will continue on our way.” Day is a national holiday.

Erdogan said Turkey’s objection stemmed from complaints that Sweden – and to a lesser extent Finland – had perceived support for the banned Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, and an armed group in Syria that Turkey sees as an extension of the PKK. Conflicts with the PKK have killed tens of thousands of people since 1984.

Turkey also accuses Sweden and Finland of harboring followers of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom the Turkish government blames for the 2016 military coup attempt.

The objections reflect Turkey’s long-standing complaints about the greater US support for the Kurds and Gulen’s presence in the United States.

“I think we’ll be fine,” Mr Biden said on Wednesday, when asked if he was sure he could secure their entry into NATO.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Wednesday that Finland and Sweden are “working directly” with Turkey to address their concerns, and that the United States is trying to “help facilitate” a solution with Turkish officials.

“You have a noisy collection of states that all have ideas, all have perspectives, all have interests,” Sullivan said. “But they also know how and when to come together and resolve differences. And I hope those differences will be resolved.”

“I expect NATO to speak with one voice at the end of the day in support of Finland and Sweden.”