On Tuesday, NATO’s 30 members signed an admission protocol for Finland and Sweden, enabling them to join the nuclear-armed alliance after parliaments confirm the decision, marking the group’s most substantial expansion since the 1990s.
The signing at NATO headquarters follows an agreement reached with Turkey at last week’s NATO summit in Madrid, in which Ankara removed its veto on the Nordic membership aspirations in exchange for guarantees that both nations would do more to combat terrorism. more info
“This is truly a historic moment,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said alongside the foreign ministers of the two countries. “With 32 nations around the table, we will be even stronger.”
The treaty allows Helsinki and Stockholm to participate in NATO meetings and obtain enhanced intelligence access, but they will not be covered by the NATO defense clause – that an attack on one ally is an assault on all – until the pact is ratified. This might take up to a year.
At an alliance conference in Madrid in 1997, Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic were asked to join in the first of numerous waves of NATO’s eastern expansion, which was hailed as a victory for the West but enraged Russia.
Both nations have been repeatedly cautioned by Moscow not to join NATO. The Russian foreign ministry said on March 12 that “there will be serious military and political consequences”
Stoltenberg encouraged partners to ratify the treaty as soon as possible and guaranteed the two Nordic nations of NATO’s assistance in the meanwhile.
“The security of Finland and Sweden is important for our alliance, including during the ratification process,” he added.
“Many allies have already made clear commitments to Finland’s and Sweden’s security, and NATO has increased our presence in the region, including with more exercises.”
NATO’s ambassadors and Stoltenberg posed for a selfie as the foreign ministers of Sweden and Finland held up their signed protocols, prompting cheers.
“Thank you for your support! Now the process of ratification by each of the allies begins,” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on Twitter.
However, Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan cautioned during the NATO summit last Thursday that Finland and Sweden must first meet pledges made to Turkey in an agreement, or ratification would not be handed to the Turkish parliament. more info
Erdogan and his Finnish and Swedish colleagues agreed on steps to enable the two Nordic nations to overcome a Turkish veto imposed by Ankara in May owing to terrorist fears.
Finland and Sweden agreed in a signed pact not to help the Kurdish militant PKK and YPG forces, as well as the network of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization.