Finland, Sweden formally apply to join NATO

Finland and Sweden formally applied to join the NATO alliance on Wednesday at allied headquarters, setting in motion an accession process that is expected to take only a few weeks.

Nordic countries support ‘quick path’ for Finland and Sweden into NATO

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The historic move comes in response to the ongoing war in Ukraine waged by Russia on February 24. They were both neutral throughout the Cold War, and their decision to join NATO is one of the most significant changes in Europe’s security architecture for decades, reflecting a sweeping shift in public opinion in the Nordic region.

’Quick accession’ possible

Ratification of all 30 allied parliaments could take up to a year, diplomats say. At the same time, the applications by the Nordic countries are strongly supported by the majority of NATO members with the Alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announcing earlier that “a quick path” for membership is possible for both states.

This is a historic moment, which we must seize,” he said at a short ceremony in which the Swedish and Finnish ambassadors to the alliance handed over their application letters, each in a white folder embossed with their national flag. “I warmly welcome requests by Finland and Sweden to join NATO. You are our closest partners, and your membership in NATO will increase our shared security.”

Turkey objects

The two NATO-aspiring countries voiced optimism on Tuesday that common ground can be found with Turkey over its objections to them joining the 30-nation alliance. The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C) are recognised by Turkish authorities as terrorist organisations.

Turkey surprised many NATO member states on Monday by saying it would not support membership for Sweden and Finland after the two countries took the widely anticipated step of agreeing to apply to join the US-led alliance earlier this week.