The potential NATO membership of Sweden and Finland would “strengthen” the European Union, top European Union (EU) diplomat Josep Borrell said on Tuesday at a meeting of bloc’s defence ministers in Brussels.
The accession of the two Nordic countries to the Western military alliance would also increase the EU’s “capacity to react” to threats along its border, Borell said as he arrived at the meeting.
The Nordic nations are expected to submit their formal NATO applications at any moment, a reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
According to Borrell, NATO’s potential enlargement is “the contrary of what Putin was willing to achieve” by invading Ukraine as Russian President Vladimir Putin “was trying to stop the development of NATO (along) the borders of Russia.”
Borrell added that he “hopes NATO will be able to overcome” Turkey’s objections to Finland and Sweden’s bid.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that he could not agree to the accession of countries that have imposed sanctions on his country and repeated claims that both countries support “terrorist organisations.”
The EU defence ministers will be joined by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in person and Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov via video link for a discussion on Ukraine.
The current situation in Mali and the future of the EU’s military training mission in the country will also be discussed.
Mali is currently ruled by an interim military government after a coup in May 2021.
The EU is concerned about the junta’s ties to Russia and Wagner, a Russian mercenary group.