Sweden and Finland could become full members of NATO within six months, granting them protection under the principle of collective defense, according to a former senior security alliance official.
In theory, the two countries could be admitted in time for the NATO summit in Madrid at the end of June.
However, formal ratification by each of the 30 member countries’ parliaments will likely take several months, according to Jamie Shea, the former deputy assistant secretary-general of the Alliance for Emerging Security Challenges.
Only after ratification would countries be protected by NATO Article 5, which states that an attack on one ally is an attack on all.
Finland and Sweden submitted their applications to join the alliance this week, citing the threat posed by Russia as the Kremlin continues its invasion of Ukraine. His move marks a major shift in Europe’s political strategy.
Six months was the timeframe suggested by optimists for entry, and others suggested a year as more likely, said Dr. shea “But it’s not clear how long that will last as Turkey is currently interfering.”
The two countries’ bids for membership face a major hurdle in Turkey, which has announced it will veto it.
Turkey has accused Sweden and Finland of supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which it accuses of being “terrorist”, and has barred delegations from both countries from visiting Ankara to try to convince the government otherwise.
“We have told our relevant friends that we would say ‘no’ to Finland and Sweden joining NATO and we will continue on this path,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
NATO approves all applications for membership by consensus, which means that any of the 30 members can veto a country’s membership.
dr However, Shea said: “The stakes geopolitically are too high for this not to happen and so there will be a lot of negotiation and pressure, particularly with the US involved.
“Turkey must remember that the countries that support it the most, like the UK and the US, are the ones that most want Finland and Sweden to participate, so Turkey cannot afford to lose partners for what the pressure is paying and because Erdogan has done it before, it is expected that he will follow the same path: there will be some kind of agreement”.
US President Biden and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg have expressed confidence that the standoff will be resolved.
Stoltenberg said on Thursday he was “confident that we will make a quick decision to welcome both Sweden and Finland to the NATO family.
“We are addressing the concerns Turkey has expressed about being a key ally [like] Turkey raises security concerns, it raises problems and of course the only way to deal with this is to sit down and find common ground,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Copenhagen.
While countries that recently joined NATO, such as Montenegro and North Macedonia, have gone through an accession process that sometimes takes years, Sweden and Finland are unlikely to experience such delays.
They have worked closely with NATO since 1994 and therefore, unlike other countries, were not required to submit a membership action plan to show their willingness to join.
“In the case of Sweden and Finland, there are two other factors this time,” said Dr. shea “First of all, Finland and Sweden have been Super-NATO partners since 1994, when they joined the NATO Partnership for Peace, and over the years they have become so closely integrated into NATO that they are virtual allies.”
“The second thing is that Finland and Sweden say: ‘We can’t wait 12 years, we have an imminent threat, you saw what happened with Ukraine and Georgia’, we don’t want to repeat that, so we will do it.” Join NATO on the condition that you expedite the process and get us in quickly.”
Stoltenberg said the allies would give Sweden and Finland “security guarantees” to deter Russia from aggression before their bids for membership were finalized. This month Boris Johnson signed a security pact with both countries.