Northern Group Defence Ministers to Speed up NATO Applications of Finland, Sweden

  • Our Bureau
  • 05:30 AM, June 9, 2022
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Northern Group Defence Ministers to Speed up NATO Applications of Finland, Sweden

The Ministers of Defence of the Northern Group say they welcome Finland and Sweden’s NATO applications and will work for fast national ratification processes.

The Northern Group is a multilateral grouping of likeminded nations which collaborates on security issues in Northern Europe. There are twelve member nations: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the UK. The twelve nations met in Reykjavik June 8 to discuss the security challenges for Northern Europe following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

“Today we, the Ministers, discussed the implications of Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine, which we condemn in the strongest possible terms. Russia‘s invasion has inflicted immeasurable destruction and suffering on the Ukrainian people, and is a threat to the security of Europe and the North Atlantic area. We stand with Ukraine and will continue to support Ukraine both militarily and politically against Russia’s brutal and illegal aggression,” the Group said in a joint statement.

Also read: Sweden to Host NATO Exercise in Strong Message to Russia

The addition of Finland would double NATO's land border with Russia from 750 to 1,600 miles. It will extend NATO's boundary with the Kola Peninsula that contains the largest concentration of nuclear weapons in the world. It also provides access to the Barents and North Sea and has the only ports in the Russia Arctic that are ice-free all year. The peninsula is home to Russia's Northern Fleet, a vital component of Russia's nuclear triad and second-strike nuclear capability.

Turkey continues to oppose Nordic countries’ applications

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a joint press conference with his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro that the country “cannot welcome them (Finland and Sweden) to NATO” as long as "terrorist leaders’ speeches are broadcasted on Swedish state television."

All membership applications must be met by unanimity in the 30-member U.S.-led security body to be successful.

Ankara's main demands are for the Nordic countries to halt support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its armed Syrian offshoot YPG present on their territory and lift their bans on sales of some arms to Turkey. Ankara says the arms ban against an ally is inappropriate for prospective members of the security pact.

Also read: Finland Expresses Interest in Turkish Drones Amid Ankara’s Opposition to its NATO Membership

For their part, Finland and Sweden have sought to negotiate a solution; while other NATO member states are confident that the objections raised by Turkey – which has the transatlantic alliance’s second-biggest military – can be overcome.

“They put it this way: ‘since we are far away from terror regions, our laws are designed that way.’ Well, then you need to change them,” Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Tuesday. “They say it is allowed for the terrorist organisation to organise events and wave their rags around. Then you have to change your law.”

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