Sweden and Finland have taken another step in joining NATO, meaning only a formal ratification of their accession agreement is now left.
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Finland and Sweden on Tuesday moved a step closer to becoming full members of NATO with the formal signing of their accession agreement with the military alliance.
Their upcoming NATO memberships have been closely followed as it marks a major shift in not only their security policies, but the overall defense architecture in Europe. Both countries had adopted a neutral stance toward Russia for most of their recent history, but the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine propeled them to take a new direction.
“Finland and Sweden will make strong and important contributions to our Alliance. Our forces are interoperable. They have trained, exercised, and served together for many years,” Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general said Tuesday following the signatures.
Finland and Sweden’s accession had been put in doubt after Turkey raised concerns about their memberships. Turkey wanted guarantees that Sweden and Finland would not support groups designated as terrorist organizations by the government in Ankara.
Talks in the Spanish capital of Madrid last week helped the three nations to reach an agreement. This meant that Turkey lifted its veto on the accession of Helsinki and Stockholm and paved the way for more progress in their bids.
Since then, detailed negotiations have taken place to establish the terms of their memberships and they have been concluded in record time.
According to Stoltenberg, this has been the “fastest accession process in NATO’s history so far.” Both nations requested to join the alliance in May.
There is now one final step before their memberships are active: the ratification of the accession agreement by all the NATO nations. It is unclear how long that will take as different countries have different procedures to ratify the agreement, but Stoltenberg said this would be a question of “months.”
However, and despite the recent deal with Ankara, there are some concerns about a potential last-minute hiccup with Turkey’s ratification.
The country’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said Tuesday if Finland and Sweden do not comply with their agreement, then his country would not allow them into the alliance.
Finland and Sweden’s foreign affairs ministers said Tuesday they hope for a swift ratification of their accession deal.