“This is a historic step”
Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz acknowledged the announcement by the governments of Finland and Sweden that they were applying for membership of NATO. “This is a historic step – for the defence alliance and for Europe,” said the Chancellor on the sidelines of a meeting with the Prime Minister of Liechtenstein, Daniel Risch, in the Chancellery in Berlin on Tuesday.
Reaction to Russian aggression
Scholz evaluated the events as being the reaction by the two countries to Russian aggression against Ukraine and to the resulting dramatic change to the security situation in Europe.
As the Federal Chancellor continued, the Federal Government “explicitly welcomes the sovereign decision of our Scandinavian friends,” adding that Germany was already very closely connected with Finland and Sweden in the European Union, as well as through bilateral and security policy relationships.
Common values, standing up for each other
NATO was based on the idea “that we in the alliance are bound together by common values and will stand up for each other at any time”. Scholz clarified unambiguously that NATO was a defence alliance and would not turn against anyone, but was designed to guarantee protection and security for all its allies. This principle of collective defence had been the guarantee of peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area for decades.
Two valued allies
Scholz stressed that, by applying for membership, Finland and Sweden were exercising their sovereign right to a free choice of alliance. With this action, they were declaring “that they share the values of the alliance and want to provide collective support together with us”. The Federal Chancellor emphasised: “In Finland and Sweden, we are gaining two valued allies who will strengthen NATO’s defensive capabilities.”
Bringing forward entry swiftly
Scholz said that Germany would work to ensure that the accession process could be completed speedily. “We will implement ratification by the Federal Republic without delay, in agreement with the constitutional bodies. We invite other states to do the same,” said Scholz.
Duty of protection in accordance with the UN Charter
The Federal Chancellor also addressed the aspect of the defence capability of the two Scandinavian membership candidates. For Germany, he said, it was clear: “Our countries are already committed to each other by the obligation to provide each other with all the help and support in our power for mutual protection, in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, and as is anchored in the European Union treaty.”
Expanding military cooperation
This would be regularly underscored by high-ranking political visits to Finland and Sweden, he added – “and we will intensify our military cooperation, particularly in the Baltic Sea region and by joint exercises”.
Federal Chancellor Scholz summarised: “We look forward to having Finland and Sweden at our side as allies in NATO soon.”