Sweden and Finland, two countries with a long tradition of neutrality, have decided to join NATO. For the United States, this decision marks a before and after, it is a watershed in European security. And its president, Joe Biden, wanted to stage what he considers a historic triumph with the visit of the Swedish Prime Minister, Magdalena Andersson, and the Finnish President, Sauli Niinistö, to the White House. Washington’s support for the incorporation of both countries is resounding: the United States even offers provisional protection while that entry is formalized.
“It’s a beautiful day,” Biden said, referring both to the blue sky in Washington and to the presence of his guests in an appearance in which they did not admit questions. The President of the United States has assured Sweden and Finland of “total, absolute and full support” for the entry and that he will immediately take the first steps so that the Senate authorizes it as quickly as possible. Biden has made it clear that both meet all the access criteria and that their entry is the decision of two independent and democratic countries: NATO “is the alliance of choice, not coercion,” he has said.
The application for membership is a response to the Russian aggression with its invasion of Ukraine. “The end result is simple, quite simple. Finland and Sweden make NATO stronger”, Biden proclaimed, stressing that “a united and strong NATO is the basis of the security of the United States”. Biden has taken the opportunity to launch his most Atlanticist message, defending shared values, security, freedom, democracy, dignity and a “strong moral sense of what is right.”
The US president has referred to the doubts that have arisen in past years about whether NATO made sense in the world of the 21st century and has been emphatic: “NATO is relevant. It is effective and it is more necessary now than ever. The indispensable alliance of decades past remains the indispensable alliance of the world today.” Not only that. Biden has gone further and assured: “The doors of NATO remain open.”
Biden wanted to underline the defensive and dissuasive nature of the Atlantic Alliance, which offers support to any of its members that is attacked by an external power. It was born as a reaction to the expansionist policy of the Soviet Union after World War II and is now expanding in response to Russia’s offensive on Ukraine by decision of its president. “By joining NATO, allies make a sacred commitment to each other. That the attack on one is an attack on all”. He has recalled that the United States invoked the NATO Treaty after the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington and that the rest of its allies supported it: “We will never forget that.” And he even appealed to the motto of The Three Musketeers Alexandre Dumas: “One for all and all for one”.
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Washington’s commitment is such that the United States already offers its support to the defense of Sweden and Finland during the accession process, dissuading Russia from going ahead and attempting any act of aggression before effective incorporation.
At the time, Biden also tried to send a reassuring message to Russia: “Let me be clear. The entry of new members into NATO is not a threat to any country. It never has been. The purpose of NATO is to defend against aggression. Make no mistake.”
The United States is working hard to convince Turkey to support the entry of the two countries. Ankara’s yes is essential, since the unanimity of all member countries is needed. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has described both countries as “incubators” for terrorists due to their support for organizations such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and has stopped their entry for the time being.
Andersson and Niinistö have thanked Biden for his support, have proclaimed the “historic” nature of his decision and have expressed their wish that his incorporation be quick. The prime minister has pointed out that Sweden has chosen a new path “after a history of non-aligned country because she considers that” the security of the Swedish population will be more protected within the alliance “. At the same time, she has also highlighted that, despite being a neutral country up to now, Sweden has a capable, modern and well-endowed army that also reinforces NATO. Andersson has also recalled that her country has a long history of collaboration with NATO.
A similar message has been conveyed by the Finnish president. “We take our security very seriously. Finland’s armed forces are among the strongest in Europe. We have constantly invested in developing our capabilities. The Finns’ readiness to defend their country is one of the highest in the world,” he noted.
Andersson and Niinistö have arrived at the White House after 9 in the morning. Biden has received them and has been photographed with them before going inside. They’ve been going to the West Wing and meeting in the Oval Office for a little over an hour. The Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, has also participated in the meeting. Later, they have appeared in the Rosaleda.
After the act, the president of the United States was scheduled to leave Washington for South Korea and Japan, in the first visit to Asia since he is president. The message that he wants to send is similar: that of the strength of free, open and democratic societies, in contrast to Russia, in Europe, and China, in Asia.