Mr. President, it is a great pleasure and honour to be standing here today together with you, together with the Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson. We are here for a very good reason. Together we are taking a historic step by seeking to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
Finland has made its decision after a rapid but a very thorough process. The process has once again revealed the strength of Finnish democracy. Starting from the strong public support, the decision was made with an overwhelming parliamentary majority and it also enjoys huge, strong popular support.
I want to thank you, Mr. President, for your steadfast support throughout this process. In early March, I visited the White House and you encouraged us to go further. That was of vital importance in the process.
Your statement yesterday and our trilateral meeting today are testimony to the enduring commitment the United States has made to European and transatlantic security.
I want to assure you that Finland will become a strong NATO ally. We take our security very seriously. The Finnish armed forces are one of the strongest in Europe. We have also consistently invested in developing our capabilities. The Finns’ willingness to defend their country is one of the highest in the whole world. We are ready to contribute to the security of the whole Alliance: making the commitment to mutual security guarantees that being a NATO ally entails.
Now that we have taken this first decisive step, it is time for NATO allies to weigh in. We hope for strong support from all allies, and for a swift ratification of our membership once it is agreed. I believe that the United States can set a crucially important example to others.
The Turkish leadership has recently expressed concerns about our membership application. I want to address these concerns today. Finland has always had broad and good bilateral relations to Turkey. As NATO allies, we will commit to Turkey’s security just as Turkey will commit to our security. We take terrorism seriously, we condemn terrorism in all its forms, and we are actively engaged in combatting it. We are open to discussing all the concerns Turkey may have concerning our membership in an open and constructive manner. These discussions have already taken place, and they will continue in the next days.
On the 24th of February, I said that the masks have fallen and we see only the cold faces of war. Russia’s war in Ukraine has changed Europe and our security environment. Finland takes the step of NATO membership in order to strengthen not only its own security, but also in order to strengthen wider transatlantic security. This is not away from anybody. Like you, Mr. President said, NATO is protective, defensive, not a threat to anybody. At the same time, we must not forget that at this very moment the brave people of Ukraine are fighting not only for their own freedom and democracy but for our common security. Finland, together with the EU and the United States stands firmly behind Ukraine.
So Mr. President, once again, I want to thank you for making history with us.