On Wednesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that Finland and Sweden have officially applied to join the world’s largest military alliance, a move driven by security concerns over Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“I warmly welcome the requests by Finland and Sweden to join NATO. You are our closest partners,” Stoltenberg told reporters after receiving application letters from the two Nordic countries. “This is a good day at a critical moment for our security,” he added. The application will be reviewed by 30 member countries, which will take two weeks.
Apparently, Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has expressed reservations about Finland and Sweden’s move to join the alliance. On the other hand, Canada has stated that it is expecting to ratify its accession protocol as early as possible. Stoltenberg said that NATO allies are determined to work through all issues to reach rapid conclusions.
Once the objections are subjugated, and the accession talks go as planned, the two could possibly become members within a few months. Usually, the process takes eight to 12 months, however, in this scenario, NATO is willing to move quickly due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis and the threat it possesses over Nordic countries.
“All allies agree on the importance of NATO enlargement. We all agree that we must stand together, and we all agree that this is a historic moment which we must seize,” he added at the NATO headquarters in Brussels.
In Finland and Sweden, public opinion has shifted massively in favor of membership ever since the Russia-Ukraine war. Both countries are closely associated with NATO, and have functioning democracies with well-funded armed forces, contributing to the alliance’s military operations and air policing. The only obstacle both countries could face now will merely be of a technical or political nature.
NATO’s membership process is not formalized, the step varies from country to country. The request is first examined by the North Atlantic Council (NAC), then the body decides whether to move forward with the application. The decision is majorly dependent on the candidate country’s alignment with NATO on the political, legal standards, and military fronts.