An empty flag pole stands between flags of NATO members waiting for the raising ceremony for Finland's accession to NATO outside the NATO headquarters, ahead of NATO Foreign Ministers meeting at Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, 03 April 2023. EFE/EPA/OLIVIER MATTHYS

Nato ministers meet to formally welcome Finland to alliance

Brussels, Apr 4 (EFE).- Foreign ministers of Nato member nations were gathering in Brussels on Tuesday for a summit that will confirm Finland as the 31st member of the Atlantic military alliance.

“Today is an historic day,” secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said upon his arrival at Nato headquarters in the Belgian capital. “This will make Finland safer and Nato stronger.”

Finland, which shares the European Union’s longest land border with Russia, applied to join Nato along with neighbors Sweden in May last year in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, ending hundreds of years of military non-alignment.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg holds a press conference ahead of NATO Foreign Ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, 03 April 2023. EFE/EPA/OLIVIER MATTHYS

According to the alliance’s founding treaty, “an armed attack against one or more of (Nato allies) in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all”, an article that has underpinned Nato’s policy of collective defense.

Finnish president Sauli Niinisto and the United States secretary of state Antony Blinken were attending the flag-raising ceremony formally confirming Finland’s accession on Tuesday afternoon.

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba is also meeting with his Nato counterparts during the two-day summit, Stoltenberg said, to “address how to sustain and ramp up support from Nato and Nato Allies to Ukraine.”

The Norwegian politician added that he expects the alliance to start developing a “more long-term and multi-year programme to assist and support Ukraine,” as Russian president Vladimir Putin’s “war of aggression against Ukraine grinds on.” EFE