The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Tuesday (5) opened the doors to two new Nordic allies, Sweden and Finland, but the success of the process will depend on Turkey, which is awaiting the fulfillment of agreements to withdraw its veto.
In a reserved ceremony, the ambassadors of the NATO countries formally began the process of ratifying the membership of Swedes and Finns, with the signing of protocols at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.
“It’s a good day for Sweden and Finland. And a good day for NATO,” said the secretary general of the powerful military alliance, Jens Stoltenberg. The Norwegian also stated that the signing of the protocols “marks the beginning of the ratification process” of the membership applications.
Read more on the subject: Hopes fade for swift OTAN accession for Finland, Sweden
The entry of Sweden and Finland – two countries that had a policy of association with the alliance – represents an obvious strategic strengthening of NATO in the Arctic region against a backdrop of worsening tensions with Russia. The Swedish and Finnish accession process, however, is under a thick cloud of uncertainty due to Turkey’s position, which threatens to exercise its veto. Finland’s Chancellor Pekka Haavisto thanked the “alliance for its support for membership” and said he expects a “swift ratification process.”
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said that the “signing of the accession protocols is an important step towards our full integration. The next stage will be the ratification process in each of the allied countries.”
When Sweden and Finland announced their intention to join NATO, Turkey – a crucial member of the military alliance – announced its veto.
Turkey claims that Sweden offers refuge to people the government considers “terrorists,” and in addition, the two countries adopt sanctions against Ankara for its military involvement in Syria.
During last week’s NATO summit meeting in Madrid, Turkey agreed to allow the signing of the protocols, but presented a series of demands to the two countries to remove the veto permanently. After the protocols are signed on Tuesday, membership must be ratified in the parliaments of each of the alliance’s 30 countries unanimously.
Turkish President Recep Teyyip Erdogan announced that if Finland and Sweden do not comply with what was agreed in Madrid, his government will enforce a veto, which would make the whole process impossible. The number of people requested could reach 73.
“A memorandum of understanding between Sweden, Finland and Turkey has been signed. And we will honor the understanding,” Chancellor Linde said, before adding that any extraditions should follow her country’s legal path.
Shortly after the ceremony, Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas announced on Twitter that she has asked her country’s parliament to vote on ratifying the accession this Wednesday.
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