Finland joins NATO and Swedes without Plan B: Lithuanian ambassadors on the mood in these countries

Swedish soldiers
Swedish soldiers, Sputnik/Scanpix

Last Thursday, Turkey became the last NATO country to ratify Finland’s membership of the Alliance. But Sweden, which made the decision to join alongside Finland and submitted the application together, has so far been “left on ice”, with Turkey and Hungary continuing to refuse to ratify its membership, Indrė Naureckaitė is writing at news portal.

The news portal asked how the Swedes themselves feel about the decision of their neighbouring country, whether there are already shouts of joy in the streets of Finland, and what could be the decisive factor in Ankara’s position on the issue of Sweden’s membership.

The Finnish situation is more delicate

Lithuanian Ambassador to Finland Giedrius Kazakevičius said that the festive mood on the streets of Helsinki is not yet felt – the country held parliamentary elections this weekend, so that any celebratory events might have seemed like agitation.

Moreover, the Ambassador said, the actual start of membership should only be celebrated this week when the Finnish flag is raised at NATO headquarters in Brussels when celebratory declarations and restrained joy can be expected.

And restrained joy not only for Sweden, whose membership is still a question mark but also for the realisation that this is only a point on a long road: there is a lot of work to be done in terms of integration of capabilities, planning NATO‘s actions.

“I think the Finnish emotions are best reflected in the position of the Finnish President, who shared his restrained joy that all 30 NATO members have already ratified Finland’s membership while at the same time mentioning that he hopes Sweden will join NATO sooner or later. So Sweden is mentioned in all the statements”, Kazakevičius told

According to the Ambassador, the Finns never advocated separation from Sweden in order to join NATO but took into account their own security situation and circumstances.

“In the security context, Finland‘s situation is a bit more delicate than Sweden’s. With more than 1000 km of border with Russia and some 20th-century experiences, the security situation is slightly different than in any other geographical location. (…)

So, in the circumstances, they obviously had to take some decisions, and they did. In this case, they did not just artificially suspend their membership, but went through a pretty natural process, without any interventions, ” said Mr Kazakevičius.

He said that Finland has made and continues to make a great effort to ensure that Sweden becomes a NATO member.

“It is well said that Finland’s security will not be complete without Sweden’s NATO membership. It can be reiterated that the security of the Baltic Sea will not be complete without Sweden’s NATO membership either”, said Mr Kazakevičius.

“If Sweden’s membership is delayed for a few months, it will probably not change the situation very much. However, we continue to make sure that it does not become a long and complicated process”, he stressed.

“The Swedes don’t have a plan B”

Giedrius Čekuolis, the Lithuanian Ambassador to Sweden, said that the Swedes are reacting calmly to Finland’s move because they understand that the issue of Sweden’s NATO membership will also have to be resolved fully.

According to the Ambassador, the Swedes wanted to go through the whole process of joining NATO together with the Finns, but they are not panicking now, as they support Finland’s decision and will continue on their path towards membership alone.

“The path remains the same. The Swedes support Finland and their decision, but this does not mean that they are giving up their desire and goal to become NATO members – I think they will definitely become NATO members,” G.Čekuolis told

“The Swedes do not have any plan B”, he added.

The Ambassador noted that over 67% of Swedes support the country’s NATO membership, and there is also support from other Alliance countries. He hoped that the issue would be resolved by the time of the NATO summit in Vilnius.

“This Swedish legacy would certainly not do any good for the new European security architecture”, said Mr Čekuolis.

The Ambassador noted that the Swedes are taking the Russian aggression very seriously, and all parties are united and mobilised.

“The Russian aggression has raised the bar for security in all countries to a new level, so Sweden is increasing its military forces, reviewing territorial defence, increasing the number of conscripts”, he said.

Kojala: “There is still a window of opportunity”

Linas Kojala, Director of the East European Studies Centre (RESC) and political analyst admitted that Turkey’s decision to ratify Finland’s NATO membership without Sweden doing the same was not an optimal scenario either from Sweden’s or Finland’s point of view, as the intention was to join the Alliance together.

“However, Finland’s accession will only add to the pressure on the other two countries to find as much as possible to find a way out and a consensus. Because only a veto by two countries, after the 29 have already ratified the admission of Sweden, sends a signal that NATO is not fully united.

Therefore, in the current context, Finland’s accession is another incentive to believe that the discussions on Sweden will be very intensive and that there will be a great interest and expectation from the rest of the NATO member state that by the time of the NATO summit in Vilnius in July, we will be able to resolve the issue of Sweden positively”, – L.Kojala told the portal.

The Turkish presidential elections on 14 May may become crucial to Sweden’s path towards NATO.

By vetoing Sweden’s membership in NATO, Turkey is declaring its dissatisfaction with the situation of the Kurdish population and their legal status in Sweden.

At a time when Turkey is experiencing a difficult economic situation and a significant tragedy in terms of deaths after the earthquake, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is hungry to use the NATO enlargement card as an argument to show that Turkey is influential in international relations and will not be pushed around, and also to mobilise the electorate, which is sensitive to the Kurdish issue.

“There will still be a window of opportunity for Sweden, not forgetting the forthcoming Turkish elections, which seem to be very intriguing and unpredictable.

In any case, there will be enough time after the elections until mid-July to iron out any nuances and resolve the issue. The political analyst predicted that the issue will be less controversial in Turkey itself, as domestic political processes will have already taken place”.

Kojala noted that Erdogan is going into these elections as unlikely as ever to be confident of victory, with opinion polls suggesting that the joint candidate of the opposition parties has a good chance of winning.

“This certainly does not mean that Erdogan has already lost the elections or that the outcome is already more or less certain. On the contrary, it will be an intriguing election, but it is clear that the issue of NATO enlargement and the complicated relations between Turkey and Sweden are also linked to the context of Turkish domestic politics,” he stressed.

Indeed, Hungary is also not ratifying Sweden’s NATO membership, but Kojala sees this as less of an obstacle than Turkey.

“We see that Hungary is coordinating directly or indirectly with Ankara, so we see this as less of an obstacle in itself.

If Turkey were to decide, it would be hard to imagine that Hungary would remain the only one blocking Sweden’s accession”, he believes.
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