Finland and Sweden are one step closer to NATO membership

Finland and Sweden are one step closer to NATO membership

Sweden and Finland have taken another step towards joining NATO, which means that their accession agreement has only to be formally ratified.

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Finland and Sweden took a step closer to full NATO membership on Tuesday by formally signing their accession agreement with the military alliance.

Their forthcoming NATO memberships have been closely followed as it represents a major shift not only in their security policies but also in the overall defense architecture in Europe. Both countries had maintained a neutral stance on Russia for most of their recent history, but the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine pushed them to take a new direction.

“Finland and Sweden will make strong and important contributions to our alliance. Our armed forces are interoperable. They trained, trained and served together for many years,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday after the signings.

Finland and Sweden’s accession had been questioned after Turkey expressed concerns about their membership. Turkey wanted guarantees that Sweden and Finland would not support groups the government in Ankara has labeled terrorist organizations.

Talks in the Spanish capital Madrid last week helped the three nations reach an agreement. This meant that Turkey lifted its veto on Helsinki and Stockholm’s accession, paving the way for further progress on their bids.

Since then, extensive negotiations have taken place on the terms of their memberships, which have been completed in record time.

According to Stoltenberg, this was “so far the fastest accession process in NATO history”. Both nations applied to join the alliance in May.

There is now one final step before their memberships become active: ratification of the Accession Agreement by all NATO countries. It’s unclear how long that will take as different countries have different procedures for ratifying the agreement, but Stoltenberg said it was a matter of “months”.

However, despite the recent deal with Ankara, there are some concerns about a possible last-minute hiccup in Turkey’s ratification.

The country’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said on Tuesday that if Finland and Sweden fail to honor their agreement, his country will not accept them into the alliance.

The foreign ministers of Finland and Sweden said on Tuesday they hoped for a speedy ratification of their accession agreement.