Finnish and Swedish Ambassadors Hand Over Membership Request to NATO Chief: Historic Day

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On Wednesday morning, Finnish and Swedish ambassadors to NATO, Klaus Korhonen and Axel Wernhoff forwarded their countries’ request to join NATO to the secretary-general of the treaty organization, Jens Stoltenberg.

 

The NATO boss received the ambassadors at the headquarters of the treaty organization in Brussels. Stoltenberg thanked both countries for their request to join the alliance. “This is a good day, at a critical time for our security,” Stoltenberg said after receiving letters from both ambassadors. “Every country has the right to choose its own path. You did that after a thoroughly democratic process.”

According to the NATO boss, Finland and Sweden are the closest partners of the treaty organization. “Your membership would increase our collective security,” he said. “The requests you have submitted today are a historic step.” Stoltenberg hopes that the accession process can be completed quickly.

EU countries Finland and Sweden are already close partners of NATO but do not currently enjoy the collective protection offered by Article 5 of the treaty organization. That article of the North Atlantic Treaty, the cornerstone of the alliance, states that an attack on one member state is considered an attack on all member states.

With their request for NATO membership, both countries are putting an end to their years of neutrality. Moreover, their candidacy comes because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. After all, public opinion in both countries has radically changed in favour of membership since the invasion.

All current 30 NATO member states must agree to the candidatures. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already said he has reservations about the Finnish and Swedish membership. According to him, both countries support “terrorist organizations”, by which he means the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party PKK and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units YPG in Syria. Later this week, diplomatic consultations will occur between the two candidate countries and Turkey. Erdogan is expected to attach conditions to the accession of Finland and Sweden.

“The allies will now consider the next steps on your path to NATO,” Stoltenberg said. According to him, the security interests of all allies must be taken into account, a reference to the Turkish reservation. “We are determined to resolve all disputes and draw conclusions quickly.” According to the NATO boss, all member states agree on the importance of expanding the alliance.

Talks will take place within the North Atlantic Council on Wednesday to reduce Turkey’s headwinds. Ankara can delay the start of the accession process by refusing to open the debate within the North Atlantic Council. That is the first stage of the procedure. After that, Ankara can also refuse to sign the accession protocols and ultimately refuse to ratify the accession. The unanimity of the 30 Member States is necessary.

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