NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that should Finland and Sweden apply to join the alliance it would be able to "find arrangements" to help the two countries during the interim period before they became formal members.
When asked at a news conference about what kind of guarantees and help the alliance could give the countries before they officially joined, Stoltenberg replied: "The reality is that Finland and Sweden are already close to NATO and we work together, we operate together, we exercise together."
"And as soon as we take the decision to invite them, that will send a strong political message, that the security of Finland and Sweden matters for all NATO allies," Stoltenberg added.
"I am also certain that we will be able to find arrangements for that interim period between Finland and Sweden [applying] and until the formal ratification is finalized in all 30 parliaments.
"I am confident that there are ways to bridge that interim period in a way which is good enough and works for both Finland and Sweden."
Although previously non-aligned with NATO, Finland and Sweden are edging ever closer toward joining the US-led military alliance.
Russia has previously warned that such moves could lead to a more aggressive stance with regard to its hypersonic or nuclear weapons.
Speaking at a visit to the European Parliament in Brussels alongside President Roberta Metsola, Stoltenberg stressed should Finland and Sweden decide to apply to NATO, the accession process would “go quickly."
“We are in dialogue with Finland and Sweden, and it’s their decision. But if they decide to apply, Finland and Sweden will be warmly welcomed, and I expect the process to go quickly,” he told the press.
“This is fundamentally about the right of every nation in Europe to decide its own future. So when Russia tries in a way to threaten, to intimidate Finland and Sweden from not applying it just demonstrates how Russia is not respecting the basic right of every nation to choose its own path,” Stoltenberg added.