NATO signs accession protocols with Finland and Sweden and launches ratification process
Ambassadors from NATO member countries on Tuesday (5 July) signed the accession protocols for Finland and Sweden, opening the ratification process within the 30-member Alliance. However, the validation of the Turkish parliament could still constitute an obstacle to the official adhesion of these countries.
“It really is a historic moment”NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said alongside the foreign ministers of the two countries. “With 32 nations around the table, we will be even stronger. »
Both countries submitted their bids in May, breaking with their traditional positions of non-alignment in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
NATO officials concluded their talks with representatives of the two countries on Monday, marking the completion of one of the stages of the NATO membership process.
In accordance with NATO procedures, the two Nordic countries now become guest countries and will have to go through the Alliance’s ratification process, in which they must obtain the unanimous support of all its current members.
The signed protocol implies that Helsinki and Stockholm can participate in NATO meetings and have better access to information. However, until ratification is completed, they will not be protected by NATO’s defense clause that an attack on one Alliance state is an attack on all Alliance members.
The process, which could prove to be one of the fastest in Alliance history, is expected to take almost a year.
All 30 members of NATO must now approve a country’s application for it to be accepted into the Alliance, which in many cases means that national parliaments must give their approval.
Estonia could become the first country to ratify Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership. Chairman of the Estonian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Marko Mihkelson, said his country’s parliament would meet on Wednesday and the debates should not last more than a day.
Estonian Parliament is ready to agree on Wednesday to ratify NATO accession protocols of 🇸🇪 and 🇫🇮 which hopefully will be signed tomorrow.
— Marko Mihkelson (@markomihkelson) July 4, 2022
Getting out of the impasse
The progress comes after weeks of diplomatic efforts with Turkey to unblock the situation that culminated last week in Madrid, when the three countries’ foreign ministers signed a memorandum of understanding.
The text signed by the three leaders indicates that Finland and Sweden “will give their full support” to Turkey in the field of national security and, in a major concession, promised that they “would not provide support” to the Syrian Kurdish PYD/YPG groups that have been active in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.
The two Nordic countries also reaffirmed in the agreement that there was no national arms embargo with regard to sales to Turkey.
In addition, Finland and Sweden have also confirmed their support for “the widest possible inclusion” of Turkey and other non-EU allies “in current and future initiatives” EU defense frameworks, in particular “Turkey’s participation in the CSP project [coopération structurée permanente] on military mobility”.
However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned last Thursday at a NATO summit in Madrid that Finland and Sweden must first fulfill the promises made to Turkey in an agreement, otherwise the ratification would not be sent to the Turkish parliament.
However, despite the agreement, parliamentary approval in Turkey may still pose problems for eventual inclusion as members.
Asked whether he expected Ankara to pose any problems during ratification, Mr. Stoltenberg replied that he believed that the agreement reached in Madrid had satisfied Ankara and that “Finland, Sweden and Turkey had agreed that it was a good platform to strengthen cooperation on terrorism”.
However, the question raised after the Madrid summit was whether too many concessions had been made to Turkey.
Both ministers answered in the negative when asked whether any specific concessions had been made to Turkey on the issue of extradition.
“We will fully honor the memorandum and there is, of course, no list or anything like that in the memorandum”said Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde.
“But what we will do is have better cooperation when it comes to terrorists and also share information”she added.
“Everything that has been agreed is in the Madrid document”added Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haarvisto.
Finland and Sweden have experience of working with NATO as partner countries, including attending NATO meetings and participating in military exercises.
The military bloc considers that the two countries have immediate advantages, especially in terms of securing the Baltic region and combat aircraft.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the two Nordic countries have also engaged in increased intelligence sharing and strategic communications on an ad hoc basis.
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