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NATO initiates the accession process for Sweden and Finland

#NATO #initiates #accession #process #Sweden #Finland

NATO on Tuesday launched momentous accession processes for Sweden and Finland, aimed at expanding the military alliance to 32 countries in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“This is a historic day for Finland, Sweden, NATO and Euro-Atlantic security,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said after signing the protocols that started the required ratification process in all Allies.

In addition to Stoltenberg, the foreign ministers of Sweden and Finland described the event as “historic”.

“The membership of Finland and Sweden will not only contribute to our own security, but also to the collective security of the alliance,” said Finland’s Pekka Haavisto.

The two Nordic countries had long maintained non-aligned status, despite holding exercises with NATO and having interoperable weapon systems.

They announced their intention to join NATO in May, prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February and the ongoing war there.

In a sudden change of course, Sweden and Finland — the latter fighting a Soviet invasion in 1939-1940 and sharing a 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) border with Russia — asked to come under NATO’s mutual defense umbrella.

Their bids hit a bump when Turkey, a NATO member, threatened to block their entry.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had accused Sweden and Finland of being safe havens for Kurdish militants he wanted to crush and of promoting “terrorism”.

He also demanded that they lift the arms embargo imposed on Turkey’s military invasion of Syria in 2019.

But Erdogan dropped his objections last week, in time for a NATO summit in Spain after negotiations resulted in concessions – and a US promise of new fighter jets for Turkey.

The summit ended with invitations to Sweden and Finland to formally bid, leading to lightning-fast negotiations on Monday and then signing on Tuesday.

– security obligations –

Erdogan says he could still slam the door if Sweden and Finland don’t live up to their promises, which include possible extradition deals.

The month-long period during which all NATO countries must ratify the Nordic countries’ membership is a risky moment, not only because of the threat posed by Turkey, but also because NATO’s defense clause is not yet applicable.

Stoltenberg said: “I am counting on the allies to facilitate a quick and smooth ratification process.”

He emphasized that “many transitional allies have already made clear commitments to the security of Finland and Sweden” and pointed to an increased NATO presence in their region.

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland and NATO members in the Nordic and Baltic regions had issued security guarantees.

Several NATO members announced accelerated ratification for Sweden and Finland.

“Right after the signing of the accession protocols of Finland and Sweden in Brussels, I summoned my government and proposed to the Estonian Parliament to meet tomorrow for accelerated ratification,” Kaja Kallas, Prime Minister of Estonia, tweeted.

The German Bundestag already wanted to ratify at the end of this week. Sources in the ruling coalition said a first reading of the text is likely on Wednesday, with the final two readings on Friday.

“This is the fastest accession process in the history of NATO,” said Stoltenberg.

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#NATO #initiates #accession #process #Sweden #Finland

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