Finland and Sweden move closer to NATO membership
Both Finland and Sweden have taken one step closer to becoming full-fledged members of NATO after the ambassadors from all 30 member states of the US-led bloc signed accession protocols for the two Nordic countries on Tuesday.
The accession ceremony was held at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, where NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto and his Swedish counterpart Ann Linde.
After the signing, the protocols will need to be ratified by the parliaments of all member states.
Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO earlier this year after both decided to break with their longtime tradition of neutrality to join the organization, claiming it was necessary due to the Russian military operation in Ukraine.
While most bloc members immediately welcomed the two Nordic countries to the alliance, their bids were put on hold by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who accused Sweden and Finland of being havens for Kurdish militants and promoting “terrorism.”
Ankara warned that it could torpedo the countries’ bids to join the bloc unless they condemned and extradited members of “terrorist” organizations and lifted arms embargoes placed on Turkey.
Last week, Turkey ended its objection after the two Nordic countries signed a 10-point agreement under which they promised to respond to the extradition requests, remove export controls and cease support for the groups Ankara considers terrorist.
However, Erdogan has warned that he could block the process again if Ankara’s demands are not met.