Written by: Raquel Velasco Ceballos
The constant escalation of Russia’s war on Ukraine led the Nordic countries to scale up their defence cooperation and preparedness, making Finland and Sweden take the decision to join NATO. On 18 May 2022, both countries handed their official letters of application to join the organization over to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and had their accession protocols signed on 5 July, after the completion of the pertinent accession talks (NATO Parliamentary Assembly, 2022). The protocols must now be ratified by all the Allies in accordance with their national procedures.
NATO’s process of enlargement involves several steps. First, there are accession talks with a NATO team, followed by the candidates sending letters of interest to NATO together with the intended reforms (NATO Parliamentary Assembly, 2022). These two steps have already been formalized and finalized. The next step includes the accession protocols, which need to be signed and ratified by the NATO member countries. Currently, the process is paralyzed in this step, as Finland and Sweden are waiting for the ratification by Hungary and Turkey, the only countries yet to ratify. Budapest has said that they will formally approve the protocols by the end of the year while Turkey highlights that there are still some remaining questions for Sweden (Posaner, 2022), and therefore does not give an approximate deadline for their approval.
As Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin has made clear, Finland and Sweden have agreed to join NATO at the same time. This means that they will have to wait for the unravelling of Turkey’s decisions and for the advancement in the following steps of the process, which include the invitation of potential new members by the Secretary General to accede to the Treaty, the acceptance to the North Atlantic Treaty by the invitees following their national procedures and the depositing of their instruments of accession with the US State Department. With the completion of these procedures, Finland and Sweden would become official NATO members. But the outcome remains uncertain and we will have to see when that moment takes place.
NATO Parliamentary Assembly (2022). Ratification of Finland and Sweden’s Accession to NATO. Accessed October 31. Retrieved from: https://www.nato-pa.int/content/finland-sweden-accession
Posaner, J. (2022, October 29). “Hand-in-hand”: Finland, Sweden pledge to join NATO together. POLITICO EU. Accessed October 31. Retrieved from: https://www.politico.eu/article/hand-in-hand-finland-sweden-pledge-to-join-nato-together/