On Wednesday, NATO leaders formally asked Finland and Sweden to join its alliance one day after Turkey changed its stance on their membership. If the two countries become members, it would mean one of the greatest expansions of the coalition since 2004.
The potential expansion of the defense alliance comes as the Ukraine war pushes the neutral and nonaligned Scandanavian countries to seek security.
The NATO announcement said, “The accession of Finland and Sweden will make them safer, NATO stronger, and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure. The security of Finland and Sweden is of direct importance to the alliance, including during the accession process.”
The 30 parliaments and legislatures of member states will now vote on ratification. NATO leaders expect the process to move forward swiftly, permitting a fast expansion and a declaration of unity against Putin and the Kremlin, though no official estimate of the timeline is available.
On Tuesday, Turkey agreed to allow Sweden and Finland to join the coalition, removing the most significant hurdle to their membership.
“The agreement concluded last night by Turkey, Finland and Sweden paved the way for this decision,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a news conference on Wednesday.
“As NATO allies, Finland and Sweden commit to fully support Turkey against threats to its national security,” Stoltenberg said. “This includes further amending their domestic legislation, cracking down on P.K.K. (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) activities, and entering into an agreement with Turkey on extradition,” he added, speaking of the organization pursuing an autonomous Kurdish state, some of which would include land within Turkish borders.
The U.S. Senate is already pressing ahead with hearings on the application, and President Joe Biden has been a firm proponent of the new members.
NATO’s significant new prospective members and pledges to strengthen forces in Europe make the 2022 summit in Madrid one of the most significant in years.
The coalition released a new “Strategic Concept” paper summarizing its plans for the next decade. The document explains the alliance’s security issues while drafting measures to address them.
“Strategic Concept” isolates Russia as the “most significant and direct threat to allies’ security and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area” while expressing NATO’s support for a liberated Ukraine.
When he arrived in Madrid, Biden commented that Putin was likely getting the opposite of the neutrality the Russian president had hoped for when he invaded Ukraine.
“I said Putin’s looking for the Finlandization of Europe. He’s going to get the NATOization of Europe. And that is exactly what he didn’t want, but exactly what needs to be done to guarantee security for Europe. And I think it’s necessary,” Biden declared.