Speech/statement | Date: 19/05/2022 | Office of the Prime Minister
Welcome everyone. This is a historic day for Sweden and Finland, and for the Nordic region and Norway as well. It has now been confirmed that both Sweden and Finland have decided to apply for membership of NATO.
This is a decision that will strengthen NATO. It will strengthen Sweden’s and Finland’s security, which means it will also strengthen the Nordic region and security in the north.
Norway welcomes Sweden’s and Finland’s decision to seek NATO membership.
They are our close neighbours and part of our Nordic family. We share the same values. We have a long common history, and their decision today to join the security partnership to which Norway belongs, represents another dimension that will unite us.
This will make the Nordic region a unified security partnership. This is a watershed moment in the longstanding tradition of Nordic cooperation.
This decision has been taken against a serious backdrop, as Europe contends with Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine.
Today, the Foreign Minister and I have had talks with the Swedish and Finnish ambassadors in Oslo in light of the press conference held in Stockholm and the decision announced by Finland this past weekend.
I have given the ambassadors my assurances that Norway fully supports their applications. At the press conference in Stockholm today, the Prime Minister stated that Sweden will be bringing the best of its history into the Alliance. The Finnish President stressed that Finland will gain security through membership of NATO, and will contribute to security through membership of NATO. These statements reflect the Sweden and Finland we know so well.
I have confirmed that Norway, Denmark and Iceland have been in contact these past weeks and have agreed to issue a joint statement expressing support for Sweden and Finland in the new era to come.
We have stated very clearly that as Nordic NATO members, we stand ready to assist Sweden and Finland by all means necessary should they be the victim of aggression on their territory before obtaining NATO membership.
The security assurances we are giving send a clear message. Finland’s and Sweden’s security are important to Norway, and that is why we have chosen to express ourselves in such unambiguous terms.
This can also be seen as a continuation of the efforts we have made in recent years to promote closer cooperation on security and defence policy among the Nordic countries. In 2009, the Nordic national assemblies adopted a declaration of solidarity stating that in a crisis affecting one of the Nordic countries, the other Nordic countries will assist. What we are now doing is extending this cooperation.
I would also like to affirm that Norway will collaborate with Denmark and Iceland and do our utmost to ensure a swift accession process for Sweden and Finland once their applications have been submitted.
There has been an ongoing dialogue with the Storting on this issue over the past days, and I discussed the matter with the President of the Storting just a few hours ago. It is our hope that Norway will be able to ratify the accession protocols for Swedish and Finnish NATO membership very quickly.
In our view, it is absolutely clear that both countries more than meet the criteria to become members of the Alliance.
Swedish and Finnish NATO membership would enhance the guarantee of collective defence and strengthen security in the North Atlantic area. And it would give the Nordic countries a stronger voice in the Alliance. Our values and perspectives will be of benefit to the political-military alliance.
As already stated, this is not a new collaborative effort that is starting from scratch. Our military forces have worked well together and have trained together for years. We greatly appreciate the significant contributions that Finland and Sweden have already provided as partners of NATO, most recently during the Cold Response exercise in March.
From Norway’s perspective, it will cement our cooperation if all the Nordic countries are members of NATO.
In conclusion, let me say, in case there is any doubt: Sweden and Finland have the right to pursue their accession process without attempts at outside interference. Norway has stated that from our security perspective, it is crucial that no one pressures Sweden and Finland to seek NATO membership, and no one prevents them from gaining it.
NATO is a defence alliance. The Nordic region poses no threat to anyone. Swedish and Finnish membership will enhance the security framework and will benefit the Alliance as a whole.
I will now take your questions.