Finnish PM: Membership delay harms NATO credibility

Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin attends a joint news conference with Austria's Chancellor Karl Nehammer (not in image) after a meeting in Vienna, Austria, Feb 17, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)

HELSINKI – The delay in the ratification of Finland and Sweden's North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) membership bid harms the alliance's credibility, Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin said here on Tuesday.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated that Finland and Sweden's rapid admission is now the alliance's number one priority

"We (Finland and Sweden) would have hoped to become members of NATO already," she said. "Finland and Sweden fulfill all the criteria as it has been mentioned, and we are yet waiting. Of course, this strains the open-door policy of NATO; it's also to do with NATO's credibility," Marin said during a joint press conference with visiting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Finland and Sweden jointly submitted their NATO membership bids in May last year. So far, 28 of NATO's 30 current members have ratified the applications. Türkiye and Hungary have yet to formally endorse the two countries' accession.

ALSO READ: Swedish PM: NATO talks with Türkiye to resume in mid-March

Stoltenberg reiterated that Finland and Sweden's rapid admission is now the alliance's number one priority. He said that representatives of Türkiye, Finland and Sweden are scheduled to meet at NATO headquarters in Brussels next week. However, this does not guarantee a breakthrough and the final decision rests with Türkiye and Hungary, Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg was in Helsinki to attend the annual meeting of SAMAK, the co-operation committee of the Nordic Social Democratic parties.