On Tuesday, in Brussels, the ambassadors of the 30 NATO countries began the process of ratifying the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO.
“The signing of the accession protocols starts the ratification process in each of the member countries,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels. After signing the accession protocols, the 30 NATO countries still need to approve membership.
Application submitted in May
Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership on May 18 under the impression of the Russian attack on Ukraine. For decades, the two Nordic countries prioritized alliance neutrality.
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NATO paved the way for Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance at last week’s Madrid summit. Just before the meeting began, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dropped his week-long opposition to the two EU countries joining the alliance. In a tri-national agreement, Sweden and Finland responded to Turkey’s core demands, according to Ankara.
“Truly Historic Moment”
The Accession Protocols authorize the Secretary-General to officially invite the two Nordic countries to join. However, before they can come into force, they still need to be ratified by member states. The national parliament is also normally involved in this procedure. According to estimates, it could take another six to eight months before Finland and Sweden can actually be admitted to the alliance.
NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg spoke of a “truly historic moment” for Sweden, Finland and NATO at the signing ceremony on Tuesday. “With 32 nations at one table we will be even stronger,” said the Norwegian.