“I warmly welcome and strongly support the historic candidacies of Finland and Sweden,” said President Joe Biden, who is to welcome Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö to the White House on Thursday.

In a statement, the Democrat said he “looks forward to working with the US Congress and with our NATO allies to quickly bring Finland and Sweden into the strongest defense alliance in history”.

The two Nordic countries submitted their formal candidacies on Wednesday.

Historically non-aligned, they have made a dramatic turnaround since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, which also swayed public opinion, previously reluctant to join the Atlantic Alliance.

Stockholm and Helsinki have therefore chosen to place themselves under the umbrella of NATO, and therefore concretely under the military protection of other Europeans and especially the United States, against Moscow, which did not hesitate to attack one of its neighbors.

Candidates must now go through two key stages, a process that can take several months: the signing of the accession protocol and then parliamentary ratification by each of the 30 member states.

– “Confidence” and “optimism” –

Almost all of them enthusiastically welcomed the dual request from Finland and Sweden. In Washington, the political class has already shown its support, almost unanimously, and the green light from Congress should be a formality.

But Turkey is threatening to veto this enlargement and on Wednesday refused the opening of accession talks.

Ankara accuses Sweden of being “the breeding ground for terrorist organizations” such as the Kurdish PKK and criticizes the two countries for not approving requests for the extradition of people accused of being “terrorists” as well as of having frozen arms exports to Turkey.

The head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken, who spoke by telephone with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, mainly met on Wednesday in New York with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu to try to unblock the situation.

“We have legitimate concerns related to security,” reiterated the Turkish minister, echoing the words of its president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“We understand their concerns related to security”, but those of Turkey “must also obtain a response”, he pleaded, while saying he was ready to “discuss them with friends and allies, including the United States. United”.

“We want to overcome the differences through dialogue and diplomacy,” said Mevlut Cavusoglu more generally, seeming to leave the door open to a solution.

In Washington, Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, was “very optimistic”.

“We are confident” about “the possibility of responding to Turkey’s concerns,” he told reporters at the White House.

– “Security guarantees” –

Several experts believe that Ankara intends to obtain compensation in exchange for its support for the countries of Northern Europe, for example in terms of American armament – ​​Turkey is currently negotiating the acquisition of new F-16 fighter planes.

The other outstanding question concerned the security guarantees that Washington can provide to new candidates during their accession process. In other words, what the American army is willing to do to come to their aid in the event of a Russian threat before their formal entry into NATO.

Without going into detail, American officials made it known that they would support the two countries.

“While their applications for NATO membership are considered, the United States will work with Finland and Sweden to remain vigilant against any threat to our common security, and to deter and respond to any aggression or threat of ‘aggression,’ warned Joe Biden.

US Defense Minister Lloyd Austin also received his Swedish counterpart Peter Hultqvist to put this support to music.

“It is not a matter of great concern,” reassured a senior Pentagon official, stressing that the American army knew the Swedish and Finnish forces “very well”.

“We operate with them, we conduct exercises with them”, “so providing security guarantees will not be a great difficulty for us”, he added, referring in particular to the possibility of new joint military maneuvers.