by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland, Pekka Haavisto, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Ann Linde following the signature of the NATO Accession Protocols for Finland and Sweden
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:
Welcome to all of you.
And a special welcome to my friends Minister Haavisto, dear Pekka, and
Minister Linde, dear Ann. It’s great to have you both here, especially on this historic day.
At the Summit last week, Allied leaders agreed to invite Finland and Sweden to join the Alliance.
NATO Ambassadors have just signed the Accession Protocols for Finland and Sweden.
This is an historic day.
And for Euro-Atlantic security.
Finland and Sweden will make strong and important contributions to our Alliance.
Our forces are interoperable.
They have trained, exercised, and served together for many years.
We share the same values.
And we face the same challenges, in the Baltic Sea, and beyond.
Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe.
So it is important we all stand together at this dangerous moment in our history.
I commend all Allies for moving so quickly in accepting Finland and Sweden’s applications for membership.
And I want to thank Türkiye, Finland, and Sweden for their constructive approach.
The trilateral agreement they signed at the Madrid Summit made today possible.
I know all three parties are working hard on the implementation and robust follow-through, especially in the fight against terrorism.
I now count on all Allies to ensure the speedy ratification of the Accession, according to their national procedures.
The security of Finland and Sweden is important for our Alliance, including during the ratification process.
Many Allies have already made clear commitments to Finland and Sweden’s security.
And NATO has increased our presence in the region, including with more exercises.
From now on, Finland and Sweden will have the status as “invitees”, and will participate in our discussions.
Today, we have shown once again that NATO’s Door is open.
The enlargement of NATO over several decades has been a great success.
Reinforcing peace, stability, and democracy, across Europe.
It was the free and independent choice of Finland and Sweden to join NATO.
And it is the fundamental right of all nations to choose their own path.
Welcoming Finland and Sweden into the Alliance will make them safer,
And all of us more secure.
I look forward to seeing two more flags flying high at NATO.
So with that, I pass the floor to Minister Haavisto, followed by Minister Linde. So please Pekka.
[Foreign Minister of Finland Pekka Haavisto speaks]
Thank you. Minister, Ann.
Foreign Minister of Sweden Ann Linde:
Thank you, Jens, Secretary General!
It’s a true pleasure to be here today at NATO Headquarters together with friends. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, my Finnish colleague Pekka Haavisto and I have just taken part in a historic moment: the signing of the Swedish and Finnish Accession Protocols by all NATO Allies, granting Sweden and Finland status as invitees. Today’s signing is a significant step on our path towards full NATO membership. The process of ratification now begins in each of the Allied countries.
The 17 of May, exactly seven weeks ago, I signed Sweden’s formal letter of intent, with a request for NATO membership, which was then presented to the Secretary General the day after. The Swedish Government decided to apply for NATO membership against the backdrop of the deteriorated security situation in the Euro-Atlantic area following Russia’s unprovoked, illegal, and unjustifiable war against its neighbour – the peaceful, democratic, and military non-aligned state of Ukraine.
As a future member of the Alliance, Sweden will contribute to the security of all Allies. We are convinced that our membership will strengthen NATO and add to the stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. We will do our part in contributing to NATO´s collective defense shoulder to shoulder with the other Allies. This Swedish Government’s decision has overwhelming political and public support in Sweden, and we believe that joining NATO is the best way for Sweden to ensure our national security and keep the Swedish people safe.
Let me reiterate our deep gratitude for the efforts of Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and his able team in paving the way for the agreement in Madrid on our accession to NATO, and today’s signing of the protocols. We have worked hard and tirelessly to address the issues that had been raised and I look forward to continuing our close cooperation with you on the route to membership.
We are also tremendously grateful for the strong support that our accession has received from the Allies, confirmed in the Madrid Summit Declaration issued by NATO Heads of State and Government, as well the security assurances that the United States, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland and not the least the Nordic and Baltic countries have declared.
And lastly a big thank you to my dear friend Pekka, and to Finland. We, and our Governments, have cooperated extremely closely, and I’m so glad that Sweden and Finland move hand in hand, which is also good for NATO.
Rikhard Husu (YLE): Rikhard Husu Finnish national broadcaster YLE. Thanks for taking my question. A question on the ratification process. What would speed the ratification process, mean in this case, and can we really count on all 30 Allies to support Finland and Sweden, also Türkiye?
Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg: Well, the accession protocols that were signed today has to be has to be ratified in 30 national parliaments and different countries have different procedures. And therefore, I'm very careful predicting exactly how fast this may go. But what we have seen is that many Allies have prepared themselves, many parliaments have already declared that they're ready to do this very quickly. And, therefore I count on Allies to deliver a quick and swift and smooth ratification process. Last time we have a similar ratification process in the in the parliaments it took around 12 months, or a year. So again, I'll not tell you exactly, but we speak about months, and I welcome the fact that many Allies have already started and announced that they will do this quicker than normal because they will see the importance of a quick accession process. Let me also add that as Minister Linde, Ann Linde, just referred to, so far this has gone very quickly. This is the fastest accession process in NATO's history so far, because there are only seven weeks since the applications were submitted to NATO until the signing of the accession protocols and the political agreement last week in Madrid. The next step will be the ratification and that is for parliaments to finally decide.
Andreas Öbrink (SVT): Andreas Öbrink, Swedish television, question for Foreign Minister Ann Linde, Mrs. Foreign Minister, do you know, are you now certainly secure that all 30 members will ratify this including Turkey or do you think there will be need for more talks, more agreements?
Foreign Minister of Sweden Ann Linde: I really hope for a quick ratification process and as you know, we made a memorandum of understanding between Finland, Sweden, and Türkiye to address the concern of Türkiye when it comes to security and terrorism. And we will honor that memorandum and follow up on that. And we will also have a joint mechanism. So I hope that the three countries Sweden, Finland, and Türkiye could see that this is a good memorandum that leads to the Turkish Parliament also feel that they can ratify our agreement. And this will also not only be secure for Sweden and Finland but it also will gain security to all of the NATO Allies.
Guldener Sonumut (NTV): Yes, NTV turkey. My question is for the Secretary General and the two Minister. Before signing the memorandum and during and before Madrid Summit, there were a lot of tensions between some member states and Sweden and Finland, but now accession treaty has been signed, and this will pave the way to see both countries joining NATO. How can we win hearts and minds in Turkey and also in Finland, how can we build a bridge so that we have a united Euro-Atlantic front against any threat and so that we can show unity within the Alliance? Thank you.
Secretary General of NATO: Well maybe I can just start by saying that I think that the unity that NATO Allies have demonstrated by inviting Finland and Sweden to join and also the unity we demonstrated at Madrid Summit shows how NATO is able to deliver when we need to stand together. And President Putin tried to close NATO’s Door, we now demonstrate that NATO's Door remains open by inviting two close and highly valued partners, Finland and Sweden, to become full members. I think the best way of winning minds and hearts is to continue to do exactly what we do, stand together in addressing all the different security threats we face both a more aggressive Russia, but also, of course, the threat of terrorism which is something which is high on the NATO agenda. And the memorandum, Finland, Sweden, and Türkiye agreed, provides a good platform to step up further cooperation on terrorism, which is important for these, all these countries and for all the Alliance.
Foreign Minister of Finland Pekka Haavisto: Maybe from the Finnish side just to add that of course we have a very good and long-term relationship with Türkiye. When Türkiye applied for the EU membership, we were one of those countries that advocated that process. We have a very close cooperation on the peace mediation issues with Türkiye. I have been visiting twice this spring, Türkiye and we have other regular contacts between the Presidents, and also Foreign Ministers. So this constant communication, of course, continues now also during this ratification process. In this document, and in this memorandum, we have actually addressed all those concerns that also Türkiye had phrased, including the terrorists, the PKK, and so forth, and all the steps that are necessary to be taken are mentioned in the memorandum. So I'm very much thinking that based on that cooperation, that we agreed, we can go forward and also hopefully please the concerns of Türkiye at this moment.
Foreign Minister of Sweden: And I can also say that we had very respectful negotiations, we took very seriously on the security concern that was raised by Türkiye. And during our OSCE Chairpersonship last year, we had good and constructive relation with Türkiye. So, I don't see a reason why we shouldn't be able to have it also when it comes to being in the same Alliance as NATO members.
Teija Sutinen (Helsingin Sanomat): Thank you, Teija Sutinen, Helsingin Sanomat. I have a question for the Foreign Ministers. What would happen if some member country ratified Finland’s protocol, but not Sweden's, or the other way around?
Foreign Minister of Sweden: Well, I don't think it's meaningful to speculate about that, and I don't see any signs that we should not act together and that parliamentarians should see it separately.
Foreign Minister of Finland: On my behalf, I think this has been a really good cooperation all the time with Sweden and we have been going through this process hand in hand and we of course, hope that this will last the end of the process. We are in a similar security situation. Our security cooperation is well advanced between Finland and Sweden, and NATO will benefit when we are coming together to NATO.
Pia Gripenberg (Dagens Nyheter): Thank you, Pia Gripenberg Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, I want to ask you about the memorandum to Stoltenberg, please. At the press conference last week, President Erdogan said that this memorandum has moved the red lines forward for Turkey within NATO. And also the foreign minister reiterated that in an interview yesterday that this memorandum should also affect other NATO members. And so my question is, how do you think it will affect NATO? This memorandum?
Secretary General of NATO: So I think this memorandum is very important because it is a strong document that provides a good platform for Finland, for Sweden, for Türkiye to work together on something which is of great concern for all Allies. Fighting terrorism has been and continues to be important for NATO. Terrorism is something we condemn in the strongest terms in all its forms and manifestations. And of course, we welcome that Finland and Sweden, as two countries that will soon become members of NATO, now have agreed a platform with Türkiye to work even closer on something which is important for Finland, for Sweden, and Türkiye. And you can read the memoranda with all the different provisions spelling out, or outlining, how they can work more closely together, including by establishing a permanent mechanism to share more information, to step up efforts to fight terrorism.
Let me then also add that of course, the actions these countries will take will be within their own legislation and the rule of law. And based on the laws the national parliaments in Finland and Sweden have agreed to and that's obvious but this is not as if they have made […] fighting terrorism has been important for all of us for a long time. And this document provides us with a tool to do more of that together.
Last thing on this is to say that fighting terrorism was an important message from the Madrid Summit. It is strongly reflected in the new Strategic Concept, one of the main threats we address in the Strategic Concept. Second, we had a dedicated session, the second day of the Madrid Summit to the fight against terrorism. And we agreed to step up, including by working with partners in the south like Mauritania, Tunisia, and other parties to do more in the fight against terrorism in addition to our mission in Iraq, that helps to ensure that ISIS do not return. So, I welcome this joint memorandum. It fits very well into the efforts of NATO Allies to fight terrorism.
Thomas Gutschke (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung): A question to the Swedish Foreign Minister. At the closing of the Madrid Summit President Erdogan has specifically said that Sweden had committed a promise, that was the word he used, to extradite 73 terror suspects to his country. He said the number was originally 60 and then it went up to 73 during the negotiations. He also said, while it's not mentioned in the text, it's a politically binding promise. That for him is the necessary condition to agree ratification in Turkey. So my question is, how many extradition requests have you received so far from Turkey? Did you receive any new requests following the memorandum? And did you actually make this promise to Turkey? And the same question goes more or less to the Finnish Foreign Minister. President Erdogan didn't mention Finland, but I'm just wondering, did you get any new extradition requests and did you also make any politically binding commitments to Turkey on extradition? Thank you.
Foreign Minister of Sweden: Thank you very much. We will honor the memorandum fully and there is of course, no lists or anything like that in the memorandum but what we will do is to have better cooperation when it comes to terrorism and also to get information and so on and so forth. As you can see, there is no mentioning of any lists or any numbers or anything in the memorandum. And during our negotiations in Madrid there was also no mentioning of any numbers or specific lists. And to my knowledge, we haven't got specific lists to the government. But, of course, all the authorities that work with the extraditions and expulsions issues, they get continuously different kinds of proposals and asked for extradition and they work with expulsions as well and we will continue to work with that within our legislation
Foreign Minister of Finland: From our side to attest to that everything that was agreed in Madrid is stated in the document, and there are no hidden documents behind that or any agreements behind that on our site. And of course our authorities not even normally working on expel and extradition request and so forth. In my knowledge there has not been additional this type of request. Of course, we follow totally our authorities’ process and legal process and also our courts decisions on this.
Teri Schultz (Deutsche Welle/NPR): To follow up on Thomas's question, particularly to the Swedish Foreign Minister, can you confirm whether there have been any promises to extradite anyone in particular? You say that it's not in the memorandum, but Erdogan didn't necessarily say it's in the memorandum because everyone can read that. And there are many people unsettled in Sweden, concerned that there have been some kind of assurances made that people will be extradited. Erdogan says 73 People were promised to be extradited by your government. How do you respond to that? And Mr. Secretary General, you said that of course, fighting Gülenist terrorism is also on NATO's agenda, on all countries’ agenda. Do you believe that this kind of terrorism does exist now in Finland and Sweden, since they are the countries being targeted now with these accusations by the Turkish Government? And Minister Haavisto you answered more thoroughly than the Swedish Foreign Minister about no agreements existing anywhere about specific extraditions? But are you also concerned that your ratification will be held up by Erdogan saying he will not send it to Parliament without some extraditions? Thank you.
Foreign Minister of Sweden: Thank you very much. Yes, as I said before in the memoranda, we assured Türkiye that we would take the fight of terrorism seriously. And all their requests for extradition will go the normal way in our legislation, and it's finally the high court to take the decisions. And this has happened during the last years and that will continue to happen this year. But we will of course, have more cooperation to get the information and so on, but there will be no other ways, other legal ways than what we have already. So that is my answer. We will comply with the Swedish legislation, we will comply with international law but we will see that we have a mechanism of fighting terrorism in all its forms.
Secretary General of NATO: Terrorism is a challenge for all NATO Allies in different ways and we have seen the terrorists trying to operate across the Alliance in different member countries. And that's also, of course, the case for the countries in the north, and also for some of our partner countries as Finland and Sweden. What matters is that we all agree, as 30 NATO Allies, and then also now with Finland, Sweden, soon to become NATO members, that we need to stand together in the fight against terrorism. And, of course, the agreement, the memorandum was agreed between Finland, Sweden and Türkiye. It's not a NATO document. We welcome the document. We helped to facilitate the negotiations. And therefore, of course, we also welcome, for instance, that in the document Finland and Sweden agree to address Türkiye’s pending deportation or extradition requests of terrorist suspects expeditiously and thoroughly. That reflects a readiness to work together, which is obvious because terrorism is a problem for all of us, Finland, Sweden, Norway, NATO, Türkiye, all Allies. And therefore, we need to work together and we welcome that. We also welcome that they agreed to establish a bilateral framework on extradition. So again, this is to achieve a common goal. We all have together to fight terrorism.
Then of course, Türkiye is the NATO ally that has suffered the most terrorist attacks, but also other Allies have suffered terrorist attacks, but Türkiye far more than any other. And therefore Türkiye had some legitimate security concerns. They raised them, we addressed them together. In the Summit, in the Strategic Concept, in the special session on terrorism and threats from the South, and also then addressed in this joint memorandum between Finland, Sweden and Türkiye. So these are important decisions to reach a common goal to step up in the fight against terrorism. But of course, what each and every Ally or the invitees, Finland and Sweden, will do will be based on their own legislation and according to the rule of law in their respective countries. That's the way democracies and NATO Allies work. Based on the rule of law and based also on the European Convention on Extradition, which is an explicit reference in the in the memorandum.
Foreign Minister of Finland: From the Finnish point of view, just to add that Finland is not any kind of safe haven for terrorism. And we don't want to be a safe haven for terrorism in the future. We have been tightening in our own legislation. Those tightenings have been mentioned in this memorandum and I think it's important. Really like said by Ann and Jens, in this process or in this mechanism that we are creating we can receive additional information. We are happy to exchange information. Then we probably can fight even more effectively against terrorism in our own country. But we follow the normal legal procedures on these issues. And the European Convention has been mentioned in this context also, just to underline that also we follow all the European norms on this.
NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: Thank you very much. This concludes this press conference.