Finland, Sweden, NATO’s road to expansion and roadblocks: What to know

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As Finland and Sweden head down the trail towards membership within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Turkey might pose a significant hurdle. In order to acquire entry into the 30-member navy alliance, all international locations should approve new candidates.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated his concern this week, claiming the 2 international locations refuse to extradite “terrorists”. Turkey accuses Sweden and Finland of harboring members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which it views as a terrorist group. Swedish officers deny the accusation and say they’ll ship diplomats to Turkey to talk about additional. 

The Turkish feedback strike a really totally different chord from the remainder of the group. Nearly all members assist the expansion, together with the U.S. “The United States would strongly support the NATO application by either Sweden or Finland should they choose to formally apply to the alliance. We will respect whatever decision they make,” commented Secretary of State Antony Blinken. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, center, participates in a media conference with Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, left, and Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde, right, at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Jan. 24.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, heart, participates in a media convention with Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, left, and Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde, proper, at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Jan. 24.
(AP/Olivier Matthys, File)


Why did Finland and Sweden not be part of NATO beforehand? 

Historically, the 2 Nordic international locations have taken stances of navy non-alignment nevertheless the specter of warfare on European soil has prompted world leaders to reevaluate relationships. 

Finland shares greater than 800 miles of border with Russia. Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin introduced the nation would formally search to be part of the group. “NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defense alliance,” the 2 leaders communicated in a joint assertion final week. Public assist for a NATO membership all the time polled round 25% in Finland earlier than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Since the outbreak of warfare on their doorsteps, latest surveys recommend practically 80% of the Finnish inhabitants helps becoming a member of the alliance. 

In Sweden, there’s at present broad assist to be part of NATO. “The best thing for the security of Sweden and the Swedish people is to join Nato,” mentioned Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson. The PM additionally warned her residents the application would immediate a response from Moscow.

President Biden speaking during a media conference, after a NATO summit and Group of Seven meeting, at NATO headquarters in Brussels

President Biden talking throughout a media convention, after a NATO summit and Group of Seven meeting, at NATO headquarters in Brussels
(AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)


How has Russia responded? 

The Kremlin has repeatedly warned {that a} NATO expansion would warrant each navy and technical countermeasures. On Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry introduced it was expelling two Finnish diplomats from the nation.

“Sweden’s accession to NATO will inflict considerable damage to the security of Northern Europe and Europe as a whole,” the Russian Foreign Ministry mentioned in a press release. 

When and why was NATO fashioned? 

NATO was fashioned in 1949 as an alliance in opposition to the Soviet Union on the time. The 12 unique founders embrace Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States. 

The group has since expanded to embrace 30 members with a shared goal of political solidarity and navy protection. The Article 5 clause ensures that safety, “An attack against one is an armed attack against all”. 


Who can be part of? 

Countries searching for to be part of the world’s largest navy alliance should meet particular standards. These nations have to be in good standing with present members, have a functioning democratic political system primarily based on a market economic system, maintain the potential to make navy contribution to NATO operations, have honest therapy of minority populations, and pledge to resolve conflicts peacefully. 

What occurs subsequent? 

Finland and Sweden are already NATO’s closest companions. In a 188-8 vote on Tuesday, the Finnish parliament voted to search membership. At the identical time, Sweden signed a proper application.

In order to be part of, a proper request have to be submitted earlier than NATO can assess the request.  NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg mentioned he predicts the method might occur “quite quickly”. Typically, nevertheless, the application timeline can final roughly one year. 


In the meantime, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland say they’ll assist Sweden and Finland. The U.S. and Germany have supplied safety assurances. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has additionally given safety ensures, promising to defend each international locations if they arrive beneath assault. 

President Biden is ready to meet with the leaders of Sweden and Finland this week. “The leaders will discuss Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO applications and European security, as well as strengthening our close partnerships across a range of global issues and support for Ukraine,” mentioned White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. 

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