Jens Stoltenberg & Sauli Niinistö

Remarks at Accession Ceremony of Finland to NATO

delivered 4 April 2023, NATO HQ, Brussels, Belgium

Audio mp3 of Addresses       Audio AR-XE mp3 of Addresses


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

President Niinistö, dear Sauli, Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen:

This is an historic day. We welcome Finland as the newest member of our Alliance. We will raise the Finnish flag for the first time here at the NATO Headquarters.  Thirty-one flags flying together as a symbol of our unity and solidarity.

On this day -- on the 4th of April, 1949 -- the Washington Treaty was signed, "To create a shield against aggression and the fear of aggression."1 For almost 75 years, this great Alliance has shielded our nations. And it continues to do so today. But war has returned to Europe. And Finland has decided to join NATO and be part of the world's most successful Alliance.

This has been the fastest accession process in NATO's modern history.
Finland and Sweden applied for membership last May. In June, at our Summit in Madrid, every Ally invited them to join. And today, less than a year later, we welcome Finland as a full member of our Alliance.

I look forward also to welcoming Sweden into the Alliance as soon as possible.

Finland is safer and NATO is stronger with Finland as an Ally. Your forces are substantial and highly capable. Your resilience is second to none.
And for many years, troops from Finland and NATO countries have worked side-by-side as partners. From today, we stand together as Allies.

This sends a clear message: that every nation has the right to choose its own path; that NATO's door remains open, and no one can close it with force or coercion.

NATO is a community united by our values -- freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. We stand together. We protect and defend each other: all for one, and one for all.2

President Niinistö, dear Sauli, I'm glad to be here together with you on this great day. Thank you for your outstanding leadership and your tireless work to make this day possible. I'm glad and I'm proud to be the Secretary General that welcomes Finland fully into the NATO family.

Welcome to the Alliance.

Secretary General Stoltenberg, dear Jens, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Finland has today become the 31st member of NATO. The era of military non-alignment in our history has come to an end. A new era begins.

Each country maximizes its own security; so does Finland. NATO membership strengthens our international position and room for maneuver. As a partner, we have already long actively participated in NATO activities. As an Ally, Finland will contribute to NATO's collective deterrence and defense.

Membership of the Alliance provides security for Finland. Finland, on the other hand, provides security for the Alliance.3 Finland, committed to the security of all NATO Member States, will be a reliable Ally that strengthens regional stability.

Finland's membership is not targeted against anyone. Nor does it change the foundations or objectives of Finland's foreign and security policy. Finland is a stable and predictable Nordic country that seeks peaceful resolution of disputes. The principles and values that are important to Finland will continue to guide our foreign policy also in the future.

NATO membership does not change everything. But being an Ally requires Finland to adopt new ways of thinking and some changes in legislation as well. A lot has already been done. For years, we have developed our NATO compatibility. There's still considerable work ahead to integrate Finland's defense as part of NATO's common defense. The Finnish Defence Forces are facing new demands and challenges to which we must respond.

At the same time, it is clear that Finland's most significant contribution to NATO's collective deterrence and defense is built on the security and defense of our own territory. In this respect, the Finnish concept of Comprehensive Security4 retains its value. But we no longer do this work alone.

Last year, Finland applied to join NATO together with Sweden. As I have stressed, Finland's membership is not complete without that of Sweden. Our persistent efforts for a rapid Swedish membership will continue. I look forward to seeing Sweden join us as the 32nd Member at the Vilnius Summit in July.

I want to thank you, Mr. Secretary General, dear Jens, and your people. Your help has been very important. You have been backing us in every moment of this procedure. We really give a lot of value to that and to our partners.

Thank you.

1 Extended quotation by President Truman: "In this pact, we hope to create a shield against aggression and the fear of aggression -- a bulwark which will permit us to get on with the real business of government and society, the business of achieving a fuller and happier life for all our citizens." [Source:]

2 A grounding principle fittingly adorned in a grand rhetorical figure by Secretary Stoltenberg

3 President Niinistö offers an important principle grounding the relationship between Finland and NATO in the same stately figure noted immediately above

4 To wit: "The concept for comprehensive security is a Finnish preparedness model, where authorities, businesses, NGOs, and citizens are jointly responsible for safeguarding society’s vital functions. The aim is that during crisis, the entirety of Finnish Society is able to rapidly mobilize resources where needed, recover quickly, and adapt its functions based on lessons learned. The roots of the concept are in the post-WWII doctrine of Total Defence, where the entire society is mobilized as part of a military defence effort." [Source:]

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Text Note: Supplemental transcription work by Michael E. Eidenmuller

Audio Note: AR-XE = American Rhetoric Extreme Enhancement

Page Updated: 5/13/23

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