Northern Europe Finland and Sweden announced on the 18th that they will both apply for NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) membership.

Turkey, a member country, has been reluctant to join the two countries, and the future of NATO talks will be the focus.

Finland and Sweden have both been military-neutral so far, but following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, they have changed their policies one after another this month and decided to apply for NATO membership. ..

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Swedish Prime Minister Sauli Niinistö met in Stockholm on the 17th to attend a press conference, and Prime Minister Sauli Niinistö announced on the 18th that both countries would apply for NATO.

He added, "Affiliation with NATO will strengthen security not only in Sweden but also around the Baltic Sea. Applying with Finland can contribute to the security of Northern Europe."

"In addition to democracy, social security, and respect for human rights, security is our new identity," said President Niinistö.

The accession of both countries requires the agreement of all NATO member countries, and Western countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom have expressed their support, but Turkey is reluctant.

President Niinistö and Prime Minister Andersson will visit the United States on the 19th to discuss with President Biden, and the future of NATO talks will be the focus.

Preparing for an emergency The Finnish capital has a shelter that exceeds the population

Finland has always been prepared for emergencies, given its history of being invaded by the former Soviet Union during World War II.

One of these is the development of shelters where citizens can evacuate and protect themselves from military attacks and radiation.

In Finland, shelters are required to be installed in buildings over a certain size, and the approximately 5,500 shelters in the capital Helsinki can accommodate a total of approximately 900,000 people, exceeding the population of 650,000.

Large shelters in central Helsinki are usually sports facilities and parking lots used by citizens, but in an emergency it can be a shelter that can accommodate 6,000 people on a site of approximately 15,000 square meters.

The shelter has a stockpile of drinking water, as well as cots and toilets, so you can spend a few days.

The strong bedrock and special barricades can protect you from pollution such as toxic gas for a certain period of time.

In an emergency, citizens are called to evacuate to the shelter through sirens and mobile apps, but in Finland there have been no battles since World War II, and shelters have never been used.

Tomi Rusk, a crisis management authority in Helsinki, said, "When we are in danger of an armed attack, we must take every possible measure to protect our citizens. Whatever country, Russia, is our neighbor. But we should always think that it could threaten us. "

Finland-Russia border town is now

Imatra, a town in eastern Finland near the border with Russia.

The checkpoint near the border is only about 1 km to the nearest Russian town, and in the past, 8,000 trucks were coming and going a day when there were many trucks carrying cargo to Russia. There is almost no traffic now.

Traffic has dropped sharply for the past two years due to the effects of the new coronavirus, but the situation has changed even now that the restrictions on corona have almost disappeared due to the effects of economic sanctions on Russia, which was invaded by the military invasion of Ukraine. Is not ...

A border guard official said, "Originally, there was little traffic for the last two years, but I haven't returned yet."

The center of Imatra used to be crowded with Russian tourists, but now it is quiet and some shops are still closed.

A man in his 70s, who has lived in this town for more than 50 years, said, "The situation has changed significantly due to the military invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Many stores have closed because Russians have stopped coming."

Resident women said, "We don't know what will happen, so everyone is a little worried about the future of the city," as Finland's move toward NATO has pointed out the possibility of retaliation by Russia, including military aspects. I think it will be safer if I join NATO. "

German Chancellor "It's a historic step" The idea of ​​advancing the accession procedure

Germany's Prime Minister Olaf Scholz said at a press conference in the capital Berlin on the 17th that Finland and Sweden would apply for NATO "a historic step for NATO and Europe."

He said, "Germany will promptly proceed with the necessary procedures for accession. We expect other member countries to do the same." I did.

He also stated that he would strengthen military cooperation between the two countries through joint training, especially in the Baltic Sea, and expressed his intention to deepen the relationship in the field of security.