Sweden signs NATO request, Finns formally backs move

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STOCKHOLM – Sweden on Tuesday signed an official request to join NATO, a day after the country announced it would seek membership in a 30-member military alliance. In neighboring Finland, lawmakers are expected to formally support the decision to join Finnish leaders later in the day.

The move by the two Nordic countries, sparking Sweden’s more than 200 years of military disarmament after World War II and ending Finland’s disorganization, has provoked the Kremlin’s anger.

Although most NATO members are keen to welcome the two countries as soon as possible, Turkey has potentially complicated their accession by saying that it does not allow them to join because of their perceived inaction against exiled Kurdish militants.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan doubled down in remarks last week on Monday, indicating that the path to the two Nordic countries in NATO would be smooth. NATO’s current 30 members must agree to open the door to new members. He accused the two Nordic countries of refusing to hand over their country’s desired “terrorists”.

In Stockholm, Swedish Foreign Minister Anne Linde signed a formal request to join the alliance, which she said would be sent to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

“It seems we have made a decision that is best for Sweden,” he said as he signed the document.

Finnish President Sauli Ninistটো has arrived in Sweden for an official visit and was welcomed by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Queen Sylvia, who invited him. Ninisto is expected to address the Swedish parliament, focusing on NATO and meeting with Prime Minister Magdalena Anderson.

On Twitter, Ninisto said that “the timing is excellent, a strong and stable Nordic region is our common cause.”

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