The 30 NATO allies have signed the accession protocols for Sweden and Finland, and sent the two countries’ offers of membership to the alliance’s capitals for approval of the legislation, in a historic step as a result of Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine.
“This is a good day for Finland and Sweden and a good day for NATO,” Alliance leader Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in a joint press release with the Swedish and Finnish foreign ministers on 5 July.
“With 32 nations around the table, we will be even stronger and our people will be even more secure as we face the biggest security crisis in decades,” he added.
The historic changes in Sweden and Finland came before Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine in February and other aggressive moves by the Kremlin in the region. Public opinion in the Nordic countries quickly turned in favor of NATO membership after the invasion.
Each alliance member has different legislative challenges and procedures to deal with, and it can take several more months for the two to become official members.
“I look forward to a speedy ratification process,” said Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto.
“Thank you for your support! Now begins the process of ratification of each of the allies,” said Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde on Twitter.
Ankara initially said it would veto their bid, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused them of providing refuge for Kurdish militants operating in Turkey and promoting what he called “terrorism.”
After negotiations, Erdogan said he would drop his objections but suggested he could still block their membership bids if they failed to fulfill promises, some of which were secret.
By RFE / RL
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