NATO wants to quickly admit Finland and Sweden

Jens Stoltenberg was not long in coming on Thursday: “Should Finland decide to submit an application, they would be warmly welcomed into NATO,” said the NATO Secretary General. The accession process will be “smooth and quick”. Finland is one of the Alliance’s closest partners, a mature democracy and makes an important contribution to Euro-Atlantic security. Membership would strengthen both Finland’s and NATO’s security and show “that NATO’s door is open and that Finland decides its own future”. This last sentence was addressed to Moscow.

Thomas Gutschker

Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries based in Brussels.

Now all that’s missing is the letter from Helsinki – the official announcement that the country wants to join NATO. That should happen quickly, in a few days, as announced by Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Thursday morning. Allianz is prepared for this and they want to take the country on extraordinarily quickly, along with Sweden, where the same decision is expected this Sunday.

It will take “about two weeks,” “from the application for membership to the signing of the accession protocol,” a NATO official told the FAZ and several other international media. Diplomats confirmed this and also gave the reason for the rush: they wanted to keep the span as short as possible in order to send a clear message to Russia. A message of determination.

Duty of assistance only under certain conditions

This means that considerations that Finland (and Sweden) would be ceremoniously admitted to the alliance at the NATO summit in Madrid at the end of June are no longer valid. “The North Atlantic Council can make a decision at any time,” the NATO official explained the process. “We don’t have to wait for a ministerial meeting or a summit.” As soon as the accession protocols were signed, the countries would take part as “invites” in all NATO meetings, including the heads of government in Madrid. They have the right to speak, but they are not yet allowed to vote.

That will only work once the protocols have been ratified by all thirty member states. It took 14 months for the last admitted state, North Macedonia. But the member states want to put the turbo on here too. The NATO man estimates the deadline at “six to twelve months”.

This is important because the NATO treaty’s obligation to provide assistance formally only applies to members, i.e. when all ratification documents have been deposited with the American State Department designated for this purpose. Allianz firmly believes that Russia will use the time until then for provocations. Cyber ​​attacks, violations of the airspace of the candidate countries, Russian submarines in their waters – these are among the scenarios for which the military have been preparing. And they will not leave the candidates alone. On Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that Moscow considered Finland’s accession “clearly” a threat to Russia.

solidity of democracy obvious

As soon as Sweden submits an application and NATO welcomes the country and begins the accession process, the alliance has a strong political obligation to be able to guarantee Sweden’s security, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told Swedish broadcaster SVT last week. This could be shown in different ways, for example through the increased presence of NATO troops around Sweden and in the Baltic Sea.

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