Sweden signs NATO request, Finns formally approve move

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On Tuesday, Sweden signed a formal request to join NATO, a day after the country announced it would seek membership in the 30-member military alliance. In neighboring Finland, lawmakers are expected to formally approve the Finnish leaders’ decision to join later in the day.

The two Scandinavian countries, Sweden’s more than 200 years of military non-alignment and Finland’s World War II.

While most NATO members are eager to welcome the two countries as soon as possible, Turkey has potentially complicated their membership by saying it cannot allow them to join due to perceived inaction against Kurdish exiles.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday doubled down on comments last week that the two Scandinavian countries’ path to NATO would be smooth. All 30 existing NATO countries must agree to open the door to new members. He accused the two Scandinavian countries of refusing to extradite “terrorists” wanted by his country.

In Stockholm, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde signed the formal request to join the Alliance, which she said would be sent to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

“We seem to have made the best decision for Sweden,” he said as he signed the document.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto arrived in Sweden on an official visit and was welcomed by Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, who had invited him. Niinisto is scheduled to address the Swedish Parliament and meet with Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in a speech that is expected to focus on NATO.

“The timing is perfect, our common goal is a strong and stable Scandinavian region,” Niinisto said on Twitter.