NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg pledged on Tuesday to “work hard” to get the final ratifications of Sweden and Finland’s NATO accessions by Turkey and Hungary “as soon as possible”, without ruling out separate memberships.
“The main question is not whether the accessions of Finland and Sweden will be ratified together, but that they both be ratified as soon as possible,” he told an alliance defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels.
“I am confident that both will be and I am working hard to get them ratified as soon as possible,” he added.
The leaders of the 30 NATO member countries made the decision to invite Sweden and Finland to join the alliance at their Madrid summit in July 2022. Thirty countries signed the accession protocols and 28 signed and ratified them, he reminded. Only Turkey and Hungary have not yet ratified their consent to the accession of the two Nordic countries.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan first proposed in early February that Turkey’s parliament could ratify Finland’s membership without Sweden’s jointly requested membership.
The Swedish authorities’ decision to authorize a demonstration outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm where a Koran was burned drew the ire of Ankara, which halted negotiations after postponing a tripartite meeting scheduled for February.
A majority of Finns said they wanted their country to join NATO without waiting for Sweden. But the leaders of the two countries have reiterated their desire to join him.
The organization of presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey in May could delay the ratification of the accessions as the work of the Grand Assembly was supposed to be suspended in March, a diplomatic source stressed. However, the earthquake that devastated the south of the country could postpone the election date.
With their status as host countries, Sweden and Finland are already very closely integrated into NATO. They attend all meetings, including those of the Military Committee, and have received security guarantees from the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Poland and the Netherlands until their integration into the Alliance.