President Sauli Niinistö reacted during a press conference at a Fairmont hotel in Georgetown, Washington DC, on Thursday, 9 March 2023. Niinistö reiterated his optimism about the Finnish and Swedish Nato bids on Thursday, after sitting down with US President Joe Biden. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)


PRESIDENT Sauli Niinistö on Thursday indicated that he remains optimistic about the timeline for Finnish and Swedish admission to Nato, reiterating that he believes the membership applications will be ratified by the defence alliance’s summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July.

“We’ll both be in Nato by Vilnius. The US has supported and continues to support our memberships,” he told reporters in Washington DC.

Niinistö, who spoke to the media after sitting down with US President Joe Biden at the White House, said Biden re-affirmed his strong support for Finland and Sweden. “Biden urged us forward. He hoped I’m right with my optimism,” he said.

The meeting was initially not on the agenda of his five-day visit to the US, according to Helsingin Sanomat. It was proposed by the White House.

Niinistö declined to comment on speculation that the US could use F-16 fighter jets as leverage to expedite the ratification process in Turkey, saying Finland will not interfere in bilateral issues between Turkey and the US.

“Fighter jets aren’t elements of the Finnish and Swedish memberships,” he retorted.

He stated that he and his counterpart share an understanding that heavy weapon systems and surface-to-air missiles are presently critical for Ukraine. Also Kevin McCarthy, the newly elected Republican Speaker of the US House of Representatives, is firmly in favour of continuing to support Ukraine, according to Niinistö.

Ukraine will continue to receive support as long as necessary, he affirmed. Also China, he added, would have an opportunity to have a positive impact on the war, but the pronounced disconnect between western and eastern thinking has become an obstacle.

“A growing amount of global tension is emerging between the two parties, meaning western and eastern thinking. These are features that you should recognise,” said Niinistö.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT