Sweden and Finland have been allowed to join NATO after Turkey lifted its objection to the two Nordic countries joining the defense alliance on Tuesday. Turkey lifts its objections to Sweden and Finland joining NATO
The three countries signed an agreement at this week’s emergency NATO summit in Madrid as Europe faces its biggest security crisis in decades as Russia’s aggression in the east continues.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement on Tuesday evening, “I strongly welcome the signing of this tripartite memorandum, and I strongly welcome the constructive approach taken by all three countries during the talks.” “NATO’s Finnish and Swedish membership is good for Finland and Sweden, it’s good for NATO and it’s good for European security.”
After formally applying to join NATO in May, access to Sweden and Finland requires the unanimous support of the current 30 members.
Turkey, Finland, and Sweden reached an agreement at a leaders’ summit in Madrid, Spain on Tuesday. Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Turkey, who was the sole holdout, was previously adamantly against the NATO expansion, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accusing Finland and Sweden of taking a lax stance against “terrorists,” referring to Kurdish rebels.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine forced Sweden and Finland to ditch their long-held neutral status in Europe and apply to join NATO as protection against Russia, which shares a long border with Finland.
Turkey and Sweden have agreed to lift their opposition to joining NATO after the three countries signed a joint memorandum of understanding. TT News Agency / AFP via Getty Ima
Under the NATO agreement, an attack on a member is considered an attack against the bloc, and a military response by the entire alliance will begin.
After hours of talks, the three countries reached an agreement, from which Turkey said it had “got what it wanted”, including “full cooperation …” in the fight against Kurdish rebels.
According to Stoltenberg, a formal invitation to the 30-nation alliance is expected to be issued on Wednesday before each individual country approves the decision. He said the two would be “completely confident” that they would become NATO members, perhaps formally in just a few months.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said formal invitations would be issued to Finland and Sweden on Wednesday. Anadolu Agency through Getty Images
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Anderson said the agreement was “good for Finland and Sweden. And it’s good for NATO,” adding that she hoped the approval process would be speeded up.
“But there are 30 parliaments that have to approve it and you never know,” Anderson told the Associated Press.
Turkey, which hailed Tuesday’s decision as a major victory, said the Nordic countries had agreed to crack down on groups considered a national security threat, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or the PKK, and its expansion into Syria. Turkey has said it has not agreed to “impose sanctions on the defense industry” and to “take firm steps to extradite terrorist criminals.”
Turkey has demanded the transfer of wanted persons to Finland and Sweden and lifted the arms embargo imposed after Turkey’s military incursion into northeastern Syria in 2019.
In return, Ankara agreed to “support the NATO membership at the invitation of Finland and Sweden at the 2022 Madrid Summit.”
The exact details of the deal are unclear, but Anderson denies that Sweden and Finland have given up too much.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden praised the three-nation agreement, which he said would “strengthen NATO’s joint security.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Stoltenberg have signed a memorandum of understanding that would allow Turkey to include Finland and Sweden in NATO. AP
“As we begin this historic NATO summit in Madrid, our alliance is stronger, more united, and stronger than ever,” Biden said in a statement.
The decision to change Europe’s political landscape comes when NATO leaders sat down for a dinner hosted by King Felipe VI of Spain at the 18th-century Royal Palace in Madrid before a meeting that would be dominated by security concerns about Russia.
Its war against Ukraine has devastated the Eastern European country since February 24, killing thousands and forcing millions to flee.
Just Monday, a Russian attack on a shopping mall in Ukraine killed at least 18 people and injured 59 others. Some saw the time, as the Group of Seven leaders met in Germany and just before the NATO summit, as a message from the Kremlin.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to speak to leaders via video on Wednesday. Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko went to Madrid to give the coalition “whatever it takes” to stop the war.
“Wake up, friends. It’s happening now. You’re going to be next, it will knock on your door in the blink of an eye, “Klitschko told reporters at the summit.
Stoltenberg said Monday that NATO allies would agree at the summit to increase the alliance’s rapid response force by almost eight times – from 40,000 to 300,000 troops. The troops will remain in their own countries but will be assigned to specific countries on NATO’s eastern border, where the coalition plans to stockpile military equipment and ammunition.
“We need to invest more in defense,” the secretary said, pointing to the fact that only nine of NATO’s 30 members meet the target of spending 2% of GDP on defense.
NATO plans to draft a new strategic concept plan, which is published once every decade. There is disagreement within NATO over how to take a firm stand against China, which is a priority for the United States but not essential for the interests of other member states.
NATO is expected to declare Russia its number one threat under the new concept, which is expected to address cyber security, climate change, China’s growing economic and military reach, and the growing importance and power of the Indo-Pacific region.
For the first time, leaders from Japan, Australia, South Korea, and New Zealand are attending the summit as guests.
In response to the start of the summit, Russia’s state space agency, Roscosmos, released satellite images and coordinates of the Madrid Conference Hall where it is being held, with the White House, the Pentagon, and government headquarters in London, Paris. And Berlin.
The agency said it was ready to declare Russia an enemy at the NATO summit and was publishing the coordinates “just in case”.