NATO now has 32 members. Romania welcomes the admission of Sweden

It is now obvious for many people that two years ago, when he ordered his troops to invade Ukraine, Russian president Vladimir Putin was hoping for less NATO. He got more. Two years ago, the North Atlantic Alliance had 30 members. Today it has 32. It is precisely the war in Ukraine that changed the attitude of the public opinion in Finland and Sweden, and as the international press reports on an ironic note, Putin has exclusive credit for it.
Shortly after the start of the invasion, the petitions requesting the admission of the two Scandinavian countries into NATO gathered tens of thousands of signatures, and opinion polls also showed that the pro-accession Finns and Swedes became a clear majority. Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometer border with Russia, had been occupied by the Tsarist empire until 1917 and was involved, between 1939 and 1944, in the war against the Soviet Union. The post-war Finland maintained strict neutrality, and its politicians avoided any statement or action that could have been interpreted as anti-Soviet. The country joined the European Union in 1995, but stayed away from NATO until last year, when it became a full member.

With an even older tradition of neutrality, Sweden did not necessarily have such serious historical problems with Russia, but rather recent ones with Turkey and Hungary. The procedures for Sweden s NATO accession took longer, because Ankara resented what it deemed as this country’s tolerance towards Islamophobic actions and towards Kurdish terrorism, while Budapest was bothered by the Swedes’ criticism of the Hungarian rule of law. Turkey gradually gave up its objections and, finally, Sweden’s candidacy was approved, on Monday, by the Parliament in Budapest, with an overwhelming majority of votes (188 out of a total of 199), after almost two years waiting.

„Sweden’s contribution to Euro-Atlantic security is essential”, the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, said in a message posted on a social network. „With Sweden in NATO, we will strengthen the defense and deterrence posture on the Eastern Flank and continue our strong support for Ukraine. Together we are stronger”, Iohannis also said. In turn, Senate Speaker Nicolae Ciucă said that „the admission of Finland and Sweden into NATO shows us that this defensive military alliance, the strongest in history, is the security guarantee through which Western-style democracies can protect their way of life, well-being and the prospects of a developed future”.

Out of the 32 NATO members, 23 are also part of the European Union. The EU countries that did not join the Alliance are Austria and the islands of Cyprus, Ireland and Malta.

Bogdan Matei, Radio Romania International