NATO has officially started the process of admitting Finland and Sweden. “Today the heads of state and government of NATO made the historic decision to invite Finland and Sweden to become members of NATO,” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at the alliance’s summit in Madrid on Wednesday. This was hard work for weeks.
Turkey had only given up its blockade against Finland and Sweden joining NATO the night before – in exchange for concessions from the Nordic countries. Turkey is demanding the extradition of 33 “terrorist” suspects from Sweden and Finland. The demand is based on the agreement that Ankara signed with the two Nordic countries, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Wednesday, according to the Turkish television channel NTV.
Stoltenberg said the agreement was good for Turkey, Finland and Sweden – and also for NATO.
However, it will probably be a few months before Finland and Sweden are actually members of the alliance. According to current plans, the accession protocols are to be signed next Tuesday. After that, they still have to be ratified by the member states. It is estimated that it could take six to eight months for all 30 Allies to do this. In Germany, the Bundestag must also agree to this.
Finland and Sweden had applied for NATO membership on May 18 under the impression of the Russian war against Ukraine. However, Turkey blocked the accession process for weeks, citing Sweden and Finland’s alleged support of “terrorist organizations” such as the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK, the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG and the Gülen movement as a reason – these allegations are rejected in Stockholm and Helsinki. Turkey also demanded the extradition of several people who are suspected of being terrorists in Turkey.
The breakthrough came on Tuesday shortly before the summit began when Stoltenberg met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. In a joint statement, the two Nordic countries pledged to address several of Turkey’s demands.
Sweden and Finland, among others, pledged that there would be no arms embargoes against Turkey. They also promised decisive action against terrorism and the PKK. Turkish extradition requests by terrorist suspects should also be examined quickly.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz and other heads of state and government welcomed the planned NATO expansion. That is “something that is very, very important to us,” said the Chancellor on Wednesday. “Both countries are a very good fit for our alliance.” US President Joe Biden said of Russian President Vladimir Putin: “Putin wanted the Finnishization of Europe. He will get the Natoization of Europe.” Finland was officially neutral during the Cold War.
Stoltenberg emphasized: “President Putin did not succeed in shooting NATO’s door. He gets the opposite of what he wanted.”