Brussels, Jul 5 (EFE).- Finland and Sweden moved a step closer to Nato membership Tuesday after ambassadors of the 30 Allied nations gathered in Brussels to sign the accession protocols.
The protocols, which are essentially amendments to Nato’s 1949 founding treaty, will now be sent for ratification by the governments or parliaments of each member state, a process that varies between Allies.
“This is a good day for Finland and Sweden. And a good day for Nato,” the Alliance’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said at the meeting in Brussels, where he was joined by the Finnish and Swedish foreign ministers.
“With 32 nations around the table, we will be even stronger. And our people will be even safer, as we face the biggest security crisis in decades.”
Traditionally neutral, both Finland and Sweden submitted Nato applications following Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.
Their accession would spell a remarkable shift in northern European geopolitics, effectively encircling the Baltic Sea with Nato members with the exception of Russia.
Turkish concerns over Finland and Sweden’s perceived soft stance on Kurdish organizations regarded as terrorist groups by Ankara were put to rest for the time being by a memorandum of understanding signed just before the Nato summit in Madrid last week, paving the way for Nato to formally invited the two nations into the alliance.
However, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan closed the summit warning that the country’s parliament could veto the ratification if the Nordic signatories failed to enforce the agreements in the MOU, which include the extradition of individuals sought by Turkey on terrorism charges.
Swedish foreign minister Ann Linde told a Brussels press conference after the protocol signing that her country would “honor the memorandum fully” although neither she nor her Finnish counterpart Pekka Haavisto wanted to speculate further on the details of Turkish expectations.
Finland and Sweden’s application process has, so far, been the quickest in Nato’s history, expedited by the security concerns arising from president Vladimir Putin’s bloody invasion of Ukraine — Finland shares a 1,340 kilometer border with Russia.
Once the accession protocols are ratified by member states, Nato members will inform the United States government, the depository of the founding treaty, and the aspirant countries will be formally invited into the alliance.
The aspirant countries will then ratify their decision in accordance with national procedures before informing the US State Department, the final stage in becoming a fully-fledged member of Nato.EFE