(CNN) –– Sweden and Finland will submit their application to join NATO on Wednesday, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson announced during a joint news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö in Stockholm.
For his part, President Niinistö said that “this spring has been a triumph of democracy in Finland”, referring to the overwhelming support of his country’s Parliament for the application to join the alliance.
Precisely, the announcement of the leaders occurred after the Parliament of Finland voted in favor of applying to join the alliance. “Parliament supports Finland’s application for NATO membership,” published the bill official of the legislative body on Twitter. “Parliament adopted the position in accordance with the report of the Foreign Affairs Committee after a vote in favor of 188-8,” the message added.
On Sunday, Finland’s government announced it would apply to join NATO, abandoning decades of neutrality and ignoring Russian threats of possible retaliation as the Nordic country tries to strengthen its security after the start of the war in Ukraine.
At the time, alongside President Niinistö, Prime Minister Sanna Marin explained that parliament had to ratify the measure before the country could formally apply for NATO membership. That ratification took place this Tuesday.
Prime Minister Marin wrote on her Twitter account of “strong support from parliament” for the Finnish government to push for NATO membership.
Turkey, an issue to be resolved in NATO
Prime Minister Andersson said Tuesday that Sweden hopes to cooperate with Turkey in its application to join NATO and to resolve any problems on Ankara’s side.
“We look forward to having a bilateral dialogue with Turkey, and of course we will also have bilateral dialogues with other NATO members during this process. And once we are in NATO, I see an opportunity for our bilateral relationship to evolve further,” he said. Andersson at the joint press conference with Niinistö in Stockholm.
Niinistö said he remains “optimistic” about the upcoming discussions with Turkey and that with dialogue the “problem will be resolved.”
On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would not approve of Sweden and Finland joining NATO if they sanction Turkey. And he added that the two countries should not bother sending delegations to try to convince them.
Finland’s president reacted to Erdogan’s hostility by saying it was “very surprising” and that in early April his support was “very clear”.
“He was supportive of Finland’s membership application process. Now there are different points of view,” said Niinistö.
“We have to discuss more. Our people are ready to do almost anything to argue with Turkish officials. We have both requested phone calls with Erdogan and I remain optimistic.”
Leaders of Finland and Sweden will meet with Biden
Moments before the vote of the Finnish Parliament was known, the White House published a statement in which it announced that President Joe Biden would meet with the leaders of that country and Sweden, in a key meeting while the two nations seek their entry into NATO.
“Biden will welcome Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of Sweden and President Sauli Niinistö of Finland to the White House,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
According to the statement, the leaders “will discuss the NATO applications of Finland and Sweden.” Also, “European security, as well as strengthening our close partnerships on a variety of global issues and support for Ukraine.”
Russia expels Finnish diplomats
Hours earlier on Tuesday, Russia expelled two Finnish diplomats, after Finland expelled Russian officials. Finland’s ambassador to Russia, Antti Helanterya, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Moscow and notified of the decision to expel two Finnish embassy employees as part of a diplomatic response, the ministry said in a statement.
“The ambassador was presented with a statement of resolute protest in connection with the unfounded expulsion from Finland of two employees of the Russian Embassy in Helsinki as part of the sanctions campaign against Russia from the European Union, as well as the course of confrontation of Finland to Russia, including the supply of weapons to the Kyiv regime,” according to a ministry statement.
With reporting from CNN’s Tara John, Chandler Thornton and Kyle Blaine.