2:19 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Please.
("Hail to the Chief" concludes.) It's never played that long. (Laughter.)
Well, thank you all very much, and good afternoon. Vice President Harris and First Gentleman - well, actually the Second Gentleman, but you're really my first gentleman. (Laughter.) And ambassadors, members of Congress - thank you all for being here today. I think it's a pretty big day.
Just a few months ago, I welcomed - I welcomed President Niinistö of Finland and the Prime Minister Andersson of Sweden to the White House to demonstrate the strong support the United States had for Finland and Sweden's decision to apply for membership in NATO.
And two proud and independent countries, each with a long tradition - a long tradition of non-alignment, exercising their sovereign right to make their own decisions about their security. And responding to the will of their citizens, following their democratic processes they have, choosing to join NATO.
It was and is a watershed moment, I believe, in the Alliance and for the greater security and stability not only of Europe and the United States, but of the world.
And today we take another important step toward bringing Sweden and Finland into NATO.
In just a few minutes, I'm going to sign the U.S. Instrument of Ratification, making the United States the 23rd Ally to approve Sweden and Finland's membership to the strongest, most powerful defensive alliance in the history of the world.
I've just gotten off the phone with both the President and the Prime Minister - they send their best - (laughter) - and to offer my congratulations on the enormous progress thus far.
Together, we committed that the United States, Finland, and Sweden would continue to remain vigilant against any threats to our shared security and deter any confrontation and confront any aggression or threat of aggression that might come up.
For more than seven decades, a strong, united NATO has been the foundation of Americans' security - not just in Europe but, quite frankly, the basis of our security around the world.
It's how we've led the world together with those nations that share our vision and, even more importantly, our values.
It's critical now to deter threats before they harm our people, our Allies, and our interests. You know, it's how we address instability and aggression, with Allies at our side, amplifying - amplifying the capacity to respond effectively.
Sweden and Finji- - and Sweden and Finland have strong democratic institutions, strong militaries, and strong and transparent economies. They'll meet every NATO requim- - requirement; we're confident of that. And we will make - and make our Alliance stronger, and it will make America and the American people safer in the process.
That's why the United States Senate gave their advice and consent to Sweden and Finland's membership with overwhelming support: 95 votes in favor, near - a near-record pace.
We're showing the world the United States of America can still do big things.
This nearly unanimous bipartisan ratifi- - ra- - ratification sends another important message: The United States is committed - the United States is committed to the transatlantic alliance.
Together with our Allies and partners, we're going to write the future we want to see - the future we want to see. And in a moment when Putin's Russia has shattered peace and security in Europe, when autocrats are challenging the very foundations of a rule-based order, the strength of the transatlantic alliance and America's commitment to NATO is more important than it has ever been.
That's why, in June, in Madrid, at a pivotal NATO Summit, all 30 nations came together to invite Finland and Sweden to apply.
It was a display of Allied unity, Allied strength, and Allied res- - resolve - proof that NATO's door remains open to countries in Europe that share our values and that meet the high standards of our Alliance.
Putin thought he could break us apart. When this all started, he believed he could break us apart, in my view, weaken our resolve. Instead, he's getting exactly what he did not want.
He wanted the
Findalization [Finlandization] of NATO, but he's getting the NATOization of Finland - (laughter) - along with Sweden. (Applause.) I really mean that.
In seeking to join NATO, Finland and Sweden are making a sacred commitment that an attack against one is an attack against all. It's Article 5 of the Washington Treaty and the core - the very core of our Alliance. And our Allies' committed to Article 5, and it's stronger than ever - that commitment.
The only time in history Article 5 has been invoked was on 9/11, when the United States was attacked and all our Allies rallied to our side. The United States will never forget that, and we will never fail in our pledge to defend every, every, every inch of NATO.
That's why, together with our Allies, we're taking steps to reinforce NATO's eastern flank and strengthen our deterrence
against any threats of aggression toward the Alliance.
You know, and we're going to be better able to meet the new challenges of a changed European security environment with two strong, reliable, highly capable, new Allies in the High North.
You know, NATO was formed out of the wreckage of World War Two, as we all know.
Where war - you know, it had - look, just be straight about it: Wars have repeatedly riven a continent, engulfed the world in conflicts, and - and there's no way to avoid that if we're not together. NATO laid a new foundation for lasting peace and security.
And through more than seven decades that followed, NATO has proved the indispensable Alliance, committed to a Europe whole, free, and at peace.
Today, we see all too clearly how NATO remains an indispensable alliance for the world of today and the world of tomorrow.
Our Alliance is closer than ever. It is more united than ever. And when Finland and Sweden bring the number of Allies to 32, we'll be stronger than ever - stronger than ever. (Applause.)
And this will benefit all our people - all of our people.
Now I'm going to go over to that table over there and sign the U.S. instruments of ratification communicating the support of the United States for Finland and Sweden's membership in NATO.
And thank you all for being here. And I want to ask the ambassadors whether they're willing to come up and stand with me while I sign it. Okay? Thank you. (Applause.)
(The President signs the U.S. instruments of ratification for Finland and Sweden's membership in NATO.) (Applause.)
2:28 P.M. EDT