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Finland and Sweden are nearing NATO membership

​Finland and Sweden took a step closer to joining NATO on Tuesday when the 30 members of the alliance signed an accession protocol and referred the matter to each member state’s parliament for ratification.​

The signing of the protocol at NATO headquarters in Brussels was made possible after Turkey lifted its opposition to Finland and Sweden joining the bloc at a summit in Madrid last week

“This is truly a historic moment for Finland, Sweden and NATO,” said Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “With 32 nations at the table, we will be even stronger.”

​Finland, which shares an 840-mile border with Russia, and Sweden, which has a maritime border with Russia, will initially not be covered by Article 5 – which says an attack on one member is an attack on all – but will gain access to intelligence information.​

Haavisto and Linde shake hands in front of the media.
Finnish Foreign Minister Haavisto and Swedish Foreign Minister Linde shake hands.
AP

The ratification process could take up to a year and remains uncertain – as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned, his government could still quash the bid if its demands to Stockholm and Helsinki to extradite suspected terror suspects are not met

Ankara has insisted the two Nordic countries are harboring people linked to banned Kurdish groups or the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gullen, whom Turkey claims was behind a failed 2016 coup.

The foreign ministers of Finland and Sweden have denied that the extradition of people Turkey considers terror suspects was part of a tentative deal reached last week, after which Ankara dropped its objections.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto addresses the crowd at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto addresses the crowd at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
AFP via Getty Images

“We will fully comply with the memorandum. Of course there are no lists or anything like that in the memorandum, but what we will do is better cooperation when it comes to terrorists,” said Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde.

“Everything that was agreed in Madrid is in the document. There are no hidden documents or agreements behind it,” agreed Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto.

Even if Turkey is placated, any of the other 29 NATO countries could still veto it, preventing the two potential newcomers from becoming members

Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde after signing the accession protocols.
Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde after signing the accession protocols.
REUTERS

Still, the likelihood of Sweden and Finland joining the alliance represents a diplomatic defeat for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has viewed NATO expansion as a security threat.

​Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24, NATO has bolstered its forces in Eastern Europe by the thousands to defend against additional military aggression by Putin.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the press conference.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the press conference.
AFP via Getty Images

“We will be even stronger and our people will be even safer as we face the biggest security crisis in decades,” Stoltenberg said.

With mail wires

https://nypost.com/2022/07/05/finland-sweden-inch-closer-to-becoming-nato-members/ Finland and Sweden are nearing NATO membership

JACLYN DIAZ

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