Sweden and Finland to hand in NATO applications on Wednesday

"Finland's membership in NATO will not change our basic thinking that we will always seek peaceful solutions and we are a peace-loving nation," Foreign Minister Haavisto said.

Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin speaks during the plenary session at the Finnish parliament in Helsinki, Finland, May 16, 2022. (photo credit: Lehtikuva/Emmi Korhonen via REUTERS)
Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin speaks during the plenary session at the Finnish parliament in Helsinki, Finland, May 16, 2022.
(photo credit: Lehtikuva/Emmi Korhonen via REUTERS)

 Sweden and Finland will hand in their respective applications to NATO to join the organization on Wednesday, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Tuesday.

"In Sweden and Finland we also agree to go hand in hand through this entire process and we will tomorrow together file the application," she told a joint news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in the Swedish capital.

Finland votes yes on NATO application

Finland's parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a proposal to apply for membership of the NATO military alliance in a historic policy shift prompted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

President Sauli Niinisto and the government decided officially on Sunday that Finland would apply for membership but the decision was pending parliament's approval.

Of the 200 lawmakers, 188 voted in favor and eight against the application, Speaker Matti Vanhanen said.

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said the decision was no reason to celebrate because "there is war in Europe."

"Finland's membership in NATO will not change our basic thinking that we will always seek peaceful solutions and we are a peace-loving nation that will first and foremost seek diplomatic solutions to every conflict," he said during the debate.

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin looks on during the plenary session at the Finnish parliament, as Finnish legislators have voted and decided that Finland will seek the NATO membership in Helsinki, Finland May 17, 2022. (credit:  Lehtikuva/Antti Aimo-Koivisto via REUTERS)Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin looks on during the plenary session at the Finnish parliament, as Finnish legislators have voted and decided that Finland will seek the NATO membership in Helsinki, Finland May 17, 2022. (credit: Lehtikuva/Antti Aimo-Koivisto via REUTERS)

Opponents to the application included some lawmakers from the Left Alliance, part of Finland's five-party coalition, among them Markus Mustajarvi who challenged the decision with a counter proposal resulting in it being put to the vote.

"Our border would become the border between the military alliance and Russia. New tensions would not be a risk only during the application process but rather a new and permanent condition of our foreign and security policy," he said.

Early on Tuesday, the foreign affairs committee decided to join the state leadership in proposing to parliament that the Nordic country should apply for membership.

"Having heard a very large number of experts and having received the opinions of 10 (parliamentary) committees, the foreign affairs committee agrees with the government that Finland should apply for membership in NATO. This decision is unanimous," chairman Jussi Halla-aho told reporters.

US Invitation

President Joe Biden will host the Prime Minister of Sweden Magdalena Andersson and President Sauli Niinistö of Finland, to discuss their NATO applications the white house said in a statement Tuesday.

In addition, Biden Andersson and Niinistö will also discuss "European security, as well as strengthening our close partnerships across a range of global issues and support for Ukraine," the statement reads.