Greater than two-thirds of NATO allies have already ratified the membership of Finland and Sweden, lower than a month after the 2 Scandinavian countries concluded accession talks.
Twenty-three of NATO’s 30 allies have by now given their mandatory formal stamp of approval for the accession of Finland and Sweden into the military alliance, with the US and Italy becoming the newest to accomplish that on Wednesday.
The US Senate approved the move with a 95-1 vote while the Italian parliament did so with 202 votes in favour, 13 against and one abstention.
US President Joe Biden welcomed the “historic vote” in a press release, saying it “sends a very important signal of the sustained, bipartisan US commitment to NATO, and to making sure our Alliance is ready to satisfy the challenges of today and tomorrow”.
“Finland and Sweden joining the Alliance will further strengthen NATO’s collective security and deepen the transatlantic partnership,” he also said, adding: “I sit up for signing the accession protocols and welcoming Sweden and Finland, two strong democracies with highly capable militaries, into the best defensive alliance in history.”
He then officially signed the Instruments of Ratification on 9 August within the presence of the Swedish and Finnish ambassadors to the US.
The votes within the US Congress and Italian parliament got here only a day after French lawmakers also backed the 2 countries’ accession to NATO in a 209-46 ballot.
Finland, which borders Russia, and Sweden were traditionally against joining the military alliance but public opinion in each countries swiftly modified after Moscow launched its war against Ukraine on 24 February. Lower than two months later, they concurrently handed of their official letters of application.
But Turkey blocked their accession for weeks, accusing them of sheltering activists from the Kurdistan Employee’s Party (PKK) which it, the EU and NATO, consider a terrorist group.
Ankara lifted its veto on 29 June, hours before the start of a key NATO summit in Madrid, after the three countries struck a memorandum during which they stated their “unwavering solidarity and cooperation within the fight against terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, which constitutes a direct threat to the national security of Allies in addition to the international peace and security.”
Finland and Sweden also confirmed that they consider the PKK a proscribed terrorist organisation, committed to stopping its activities and to step up cooperation to stop its activities. In addition they committed to deal with Turkey’s pending deportation or extradition request of suspected PKK activists.
Six days later, on 5 July, the accession protocols were signed and Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s Secretary General, pledged that their accession would “be the fastest in history.”
“I’m very careful predicting or promising anything [about] parliaments. But last time, it took roughly a 12 months and lots of allies have expressed that they will attempt to do it faster this time,” Stoltenberg told Euronews on the time.
“So hopefully we’ll probably discuss months,” he added.
Lawmakers in Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Estonia, the UK, Albania and Germany endorsed their accession that very week.
A month later, Turkey is one among just seven allies with the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain whose lawmakers haven’t yet been asked to vote on Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO.