Both the European Union and NATO were established after the Second World War with a similar purpose – to help maintain peace through cooperation between states. The unbearable inhumanity of the wars of that era was fresh on every nation’s mind and this is why post-war idealism evolved into close cooperation that continues to this day. Whereas Estonia has viewed membership in the European Union and NATO as a security guarantee, the historical path of Finland and Sweden has been different.

Up until recently, there was no broad public or political support for joining NATO in these countries. All this changed when Russia launched its full-scale war against Ukraine in late February, thereby attacking the entire security architecture of Europe as we know it. Supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s aggression, imposing sanctions on Russia, and responsible countries coming together politically and principally is, in fact, essentially the same reaction – we cherish and uphold peace.

Today I introduced an agenda item concerning the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO to the government and it was approved. The accession of our neighbours would mean we gain two capable Allies that share our values and face similar challenges. Finland and Sweden have cooperated with the Alliance for years to protect democratic values and freedom and they are long-established democracies with solid independent defence capabilities. They have been integrated with NATO for years as closely as possible without actual membership.

We have participated in missions and operations with them, from the Western Balkans to Iraq, and cooperated in NATO’s joint exercises. Finland and Sweden are also respected as excellent partners in regional defence cooperation, which will gain a new dimension with their accession. This is why we consider it a completely natural step that Finland and Sweden join NATO with all the rights and responsibilities the Alliance entails.

Finland and Sweden joining the Alliance would contribute to the security of our region and Europe as a whole and improve the security of supply of NATO’s Eastern Flank. This is particularly important for Estonia because seeing what is happening in the areas of Ukraine occupied by Russia, we want to be able to repel the enemy immediately instead of being liberated. The Baltic Sea becoming NATO’s internal sea takes away the main advantages Russia has in the region.

Equally importantly, the accession of Finland and Sweden demonstrates the viability of NATO’s open door policy, which Estonia considers important. Finland and Sweden will definitely not be the last ones to join the most powerful defensive alliance in the world, because the open door will remain relevant when it comes to Ukraine and Georgia. Estonia will do its best to support their Euro-Atlantic integration and democratic reforms.

Estonia’s support for Finland and Sweden joining NATO is unwavering. Together we can increase the solidarity of member states, stand up against all security threats around us and improve our defence capabilities. Estonia is ready for a speedy accession process of Finland and Sweden both domestically as well as in NATO. I hope that when I meet my Nordic colleagues at the Madrid summit, they will already have been formally invited to join the Alliance.