BRUSSELS – The 30 NATO allies signed the accession protocols for Sweden and Finland on Tuesday and sent the two nations’ offers of membership to the alliance’s capitals for approval of the legislation.
The move further increases Russia’s strategic isolation in the wake of its invasion of neighboring Ukraine in February and military fighting there since.
“This is truly a historic moment for Finland, for Sweden and for NATO,” said the Alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
The 30 ambassadors and permanent representatives formally approved the decisions from last week’s NATO summit when the alliance made the historic decision to invite Russia’s neighbor Finland and Scandinavian partner Sweden to join the military club.
Despite the agreement in the alliance, a parliamentary approval in the member state of Turkey can still pose problems for their final inclusion as members.
Last week, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Ankara could still block the process if the two countries do not fully meet Turkey’s demands to extradite terror suspects with links to banned Kurdish groups or the network of an exile priest accused of a failed 2016 coup in Turkey. .
He said the Turkish parliament could refuse to ratify the agreement. This is a potent threat because accession to NATO must be formally approved by all 30 member states, giving everyone a blocking right.
Stoltenberg said he did not expect any change. “There were security issues that needed to be addressed. And we did as we always do within NATO. We found a common ground.”
Each alliance nation has different legislative challenges and procedures to deal with, and it can take several months for the two to become official members.
“I look forward to a speedy ratification process,” said Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has made the process extra urgent. It will anchor the two nations in the Western military alliance and give NATO more influence, especially in the face of Moscow’s military threats.
“We will be even stronger and our people will be even more secure as we face the biggest security crisis in decades,” Stoltenberg said.
Tuesday’s signing for both nations is already deeper into NATO’s trap. As close partners, they have already participated in some meetings that dealt with issues that directly affected them. As invited guests, they can attend all meetings of the ambassadors, even if they do not yet have the right to vote.