Turkey has blocked Sweden and Finland from joining NATO for weeks. The dispute was settled shortly before a summit meeting in Madrid. Now the NATO countries have made a long-awaited decision.
NATO has officially started the process of admitting Finland and Sweden. “Today the heads of state and government of NATO made the historic decision to invite Finland and Sweden to become members of NATO,” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at the alliance’s summit in Madrid. This was hard work for weeks.
Turkey had only given up its blockade against Finland and Sweden joining NATO the night before – in exchange for concessions from the Nordic countries. Stoltenberg said the agreement was good for Turkey, Finland and Sweden – and also for NATO.
Admission procedure takes several months
However, it will probably be a few months before Finland and Sweden are actually members of the alliance. According to current plans, the accession protocols are to be signed next Tuesday. After that, they still have to be ratified by the member states. It is estimated that it could take six to eight months for all 30 Allies to do this. In Germany, the Bundestag must also agree.
Stoltenberg did not want to commit to a timeframe for accession. However, he emphasized that there was a “strong will” throughout the alliance to work with parliaments so that they could ratify as soon as possible.
A spokesman for the Foreign Office in Berlin said that the decision-making process in Germany would “go even faster than you and I usually think is possible”. The ministry spokesman left open whether all the necessary steps could be implemented before the parliamentary summer break, which begins at the end of next week. The FDP politician Alexander Graf Lambsdorff said that the Bundestag should vote on the issue before the summer break.
Scandinavians make concessions
Finland and Sweden had applied for NATO membership on May 18 under the impression of the Russian war against Ukraine. However, Turkey blocked the accession process for weeks, citing Sweden and Finland’s alleged support of “terrorist organizations” such as the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK, the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG and the Gülen movement as a reason – these allegations are rejected in Stockholm and Helsinki. Turkey also demanded the extradition of several people who are suspected of being terrorists in Turkey.
The breakthrough came on Tuesday shortly before the summit began when Stoltenberg met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. In a joint statement, the two Nordic countries pledged to address several of Turkey’s demands.
Sweden and Finland, among others, pledged that there would be no arms embargoes against Turkey. They also promised decisive action against terrorism and the PKK. Turkish extradition requests by terrorist suspects should also be examined quickly.
Turkey continues to demand extraditions
After the agreement in the NATO dispute with Sweden and Finland, Turkey has again demanded the extradition of terror suspects. As part of the new deal with the two countries, the Justice Ministry is reminding that Turkey has requested extradition for a total of 33 people, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Wednesday, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.
Finland is being asked to hand over 12 suspected terrorists and Sweden to hand over 21 suspects. It is about supporters of the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK and the so-called Gülen movement. Ankara blames the movement around US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen for the 2016 coup attempt. The PKK is considered a terrorist organization in Turkey, Europe and the USA.
Scholz: “Very, very important”
Chancellor Olaf Scholz and other heads of state and government welcomed the planned NATO expansion. That is “something that is very, very important to us,” said the Chancellor on Wednesday. “Both countries fit very well with our alliance.” US President Joe Biden said of Russian President Vladimir Putin: «Putin wanted the Finnishization of Europe. He will get the Natoization of Europe.” Finland was officially neutral during the Cold War.
Stoltenberg emphasized: “President Putin has not succeeded in closing the door of NATO. He gets the opposite of what he wanted.”