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Finland and Sweden move closer to Nato membership
15 May 2022, 17:34
The countries’ leaders are acting amid the war in Ukraine.
Finland’s president and government have announced the Nordic country intends to apply for membership of Nato, paving the way for the 30-member Western military alliance to expand amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.
President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin made the announcement at a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on Sunday.
Finland, which shares a long border with Russia, has previously been a neutral country.
Mr Niinisto said: “This is a historic day. A new era begins.”
The Finnish Parliament is expected to endorse the decision in coming days, but it is considered a formality.
A formal membership application will then be submitted to Nato headquarters in Brussels, most likely at some point next week.
Sweden also moved a step closer to applying for NATO membership after the governing Social Democratic party backed joining the trans-Atlantic alliance.
“At its meeting today, the Social Democrats’ party board has decided that the party will work for Sweden to apply for membership in NATO,” the party said in a statement.
The plan to join the alliance will be discussed in Sweden’s parliament on Monday, and Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson’s Cabinet will make an announce later that day.