Finland and Sweden to join NATO despite threats from Turkey and Russia

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Sweden's Ambassador to NATO Axel Wernhoff shake hands during a ceremony to mark Sweden's and Finland's application for membership in Brussels, Belgium, May 18, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/Pool

On Wednesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated that the military alliance is prepared to grab a historic opportunity and swiftly allow Finland and Sweden to join its ranks after the submission of membership petitions by the two nations.

The official petitions submitted by the ambassadors of Finland and Sweden to NATO set the security clock in motion. Russia, whose war on Ukraine prompted Ukraine's decision to join the military group, has warned that it would oppose such a move and would respond accordingly.

"I enthusiastically welcome Finland and Sweden's requests to join NATO. You are our closest partners," Stoltenberg stated. "All allies concur on the significance of NATO expansion. We are all in agreement that we must stand united and that we must grab this historic opportunity."

"This is a good day at a crucial time for our security," Stoltenberg exclaimed as he stood with the two envoys with the NATO, Finnish, and Swedish flags behind them.

Several NATO partners, led by the United States and the United Kingdom, have declared their readiness to provide security support to Finland and Sweden should Russian President Vladimir Putin attempt to provoke or destabilize them when it takes to become full members.

Article 5 of NATO's founding treaty states that any assault on one member is considered an attack on all and will not apply to the countries until the membership ratification process is complete, likely occurring within a few months.

The move is one of the war's most significant geopolitical repercussions and will redraw Europe's security map. Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, praised the action in a tweet, stating that "Putin's appalling ambitions have altered the geopolitical contours of our continent."

However, the application must be evaluated by the 30 member states. This procedure is anticipated to take approximately two weeks. However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has raised doubts about Finland and Sweden's membership.

If his objections are overcome, and accession talks proceed as anticipated, the two countries might soon become members of the union. The procedure typically takes eight to twelve months, but NATO wants to move swiftly due to the threat posed by Russia to the Nordic countries.

In the Baltic region, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas tweeted, "I welcome a quick accession process. We in Estonia will act expeditiously."

Stoltenberg stated that NATO countries are "committed to addressing all issues and reaching swift resolutions."

Because the Nordic partners applied jointly, they will not waste time ratifying each other's membership applications.

"The fact that Sweden and Finland work together is a strength. Now, entering the discussions continues, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde told the Swedish news agency TT.

Approval in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania should come quickly. Wednesday, their respective prime ministers released a joint statement in which they "fully endorse and warmly welcome the historic decisions" made in Helsinki and Stockholm.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, public opinion in Finland and Sweden has dramatically swung in favor of membership.

Sweden and Finland work closely with NATO. They have functional democracies, well-funded armed forces, and participate in the alliance's military operations and air policing. The only barriers they will confront will be technological or potentially political.

The NATO membership procedure is not standardized, and its methods vary. However, their petitions to join will first be reviewed by the North Atlantic Council (NAC) of the 30 member nations, most likely at the ambassadorial level.

The NAC will decide whether to pursue membership and what procedures are necessary. This primarily hinges on how closely aligned the candidate nations are with NATO's political, military, and legal requirements and whether or not they contribute to the security of the North Atlantic region. This should not represent a significant difficulty for Finland and Sweden.

Moving forward, during accession talks that could be concluded in a single day once the terms of those negotiations have been established, the two will be asked to commit to upholding Article 5 and meeting spending obligations regarding the NATO in-house budget, which totals approximately $2.5 billion and would be proportionally divided among 32 member states.

Additionally, Finland and Sweden would be informed of their involvement in NATO defense planning and of any other legal or security requirements they may have, such as personnel screening and handling of confidential material.

Publish : 2022-05-18 19:41:00

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