The 30 NATO allies signed the accession protocols for Sweden and Finland on Tuesday and sent the two nations’ accession bids to the alliance’s capitals for legislative approval.
The move further reinforces Russia’s strategic isolation following its invasion of neighboring Ukraine in February and the military fighting there.
“This is truly a historic moment for Finland, Sweden and NATO,” said Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
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The 30 ambassadors and permanent representatives officially endorsed the decisions of 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, the parliamentary approval in the member state Turkey could still cause problems for their final acceptance as members.
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Last week, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Ankara could still block the process if the two countries respond to Turkey’s demands for the extradition of terror suspects with links to banned Kurdish groups or the network of an exiled cleric linked to a failed coup d’état of 2016 is accused of not fully complying with turkey.
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He said the Turkish parliament could refuse to ratify the deal. It’s a strong threat because joining NATO requires formal approval by all 30 member states, giving everyone a blocking right.
Stoltenberg said he doesn’t expect a change of heart. “There were safety concerns that needed to be addressed. And we did what we always do in NATO. We found common ground.”
Each alliance nation faces different legislative challenges and procedures, and it could be several months before the two become official members.
NATO invites Sweden and Finland to join the alliance as Russia is considered a “direct threat”.
“I look forward to a speedy ratification process,” said Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has added urgency to the process. It will embed the two nations in the western military alliance and give NATO more clout, especially in the face of the military threat posed by Moscow.
“We will become even stronger and our people even safer as we face the biggest security crisis in decades,” Stoltenberg said.
Tuesday’s signing already brings both nations deeper into the fold of NATO. As close partners, they have already taken part in a number of meetings dealing with issues that directly affect them. As official invitees, they can attend all ambassadors’ meetings, even if they do not yet have voting rights.
© 2022 The Canadian Press
https://globalnews.ca/news/8967251/sweden-finland-sign-nato-accession-protocol/ Sweden, Finland move closer to joining NATO after signing accession protocol – National