The ratification process has begun for Finland and Sweden to join the NATO alliance. NATO ambassadors signed today the accession protocols for the two Nordic countries, opening up the ratification process in the 30-member alliance.
However, the Turkish parliament’s approval could still become another hurdle for the two countries to become official members.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said it was a historic moment as he stood alongside the Finnish and Swedish Foreign Ministers.
“With 32 nations around the table, we will be even stronger,” Stoltenberg said.
Finland and Sweden submitted their official applications to join NATO in May, breaking their long-standing non-aligned stances. It came in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
NATO officials finished talks Monday with representatives of each country, marking the completion of one of the steps in joining NATO. Now both countries will become invitees and will have to follow through with the ratification process.
In order to become a member, all current members need to unanimously agree. This includes some national parliaments meeting in order to give their approval.
Now that the protocols have been signed, Finland and Sweden can begin participating in NATO meetings and have greater access to intelligence. But it is not until ratification is completed that they will be fully protected by the NATO defense clause.
According to NATO, when a member nation is attacked, that is seen as an attack against all nations.
Finland and Sweden joining could become one of the quickest new membership processes ever in the history of NATO. It is expected to take up to a year.
Turkey has been the biggest hurdle for the new countries to join. The process comes after weeks of diplomacy with Turkey broke a deadlock last week, when the three countries’ foreign ministers met for talks and signed a memorandum of understanding.
But despite the signed agreement, Turkey still will need parliamentary approval, which could be an issue for the countries.