by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with the President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö at the ceremony marking the accession of Finland to NATO
President Niinistö, dear Sauli,
Ladies and gentlemen.
This is an historic day.
We welcome Finland as the newest member of our Alliance.
We will raise the Finnish flag for the first time here at the NATO Headquarters.
Thirty-one flags flying together as a symbol of our unity and solidarity.
On this day – on the 4th of April 1949 - the Washington Treaty was signed, “To create a shield against aggression and the fear of aggression.”
For almost 75 years, this great Alliance has shielded our nations. And it continues to do so today.
But war has returned to Europe. And Finland has decided to join NATO, and be part of the world’s most successful Alliance.
This has been the fastest accession process in NATO’s modern history.
Finland and Sweden applied for membership last May.
In June, at our Summit in Madrid, every Ally invited them to join.
And today, less than a year later, we welcome Finland as a full member of our Alliance.
I look forward also to welcoming Sweden into the Alliance as soon as possible.
Finland is safer and NATO is stronger with Finland as an Ally.
Your forces are substantial and highly capable.
Your resilience is second to none.
And for many years, troops from Finland and NATO countries have worked side-by-side as partners.
From today, we stand together as Allies.
This sends a clear message: That every nation has the right to choose its own path, that NATO’s door remains open, and no one can close it with force or coercion.
NATO is a community united by our values - freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
We stand together, we protect and defend each other. All for one, and one for all.
President Niinistö, dear Sauli, I am glad to be here together with you on this great day.
Thank you for your outstanding leadership, and your tireless work to make this day possible.
I am glad – and I am proud - to be the Secretary General that welcomes Finland fully into the NATO family.
Welcome to the Alliance.