Sweden and Finland Request to join NATO

Finland and Sweden submitted their application to join North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Why did Finland and Sweden decide to join NATO?

Although Finland and Sweden have a non-alignment policy, they were always close to NATO. The 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine prompted them to join NATO and seek its safety net.

What is North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)?

NATO is an intergovernmental military alliance consisting of 30 member states belonging to Europe and North America (28 European states, USA, and Canada). NATO takes all decisions by consensus. The last country to join NATO was North Macedonia in 2020.  NATO headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium.

NATO aims to guarantee the security of its members through political and military means. According to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO’s founding treaty), an armed attack against any NATO member in Europe or North America will be considered an attack against all NATO members. Till now Article 5 is invoked only once, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the USA.

What is the process to get NATO membership?

A country should formally apply for NATO membership. The country should meet the criteria laid down in NATO’s 1995 “Study on Enlargement”. These criteria include having a functioning democratic political system based on a market economy, the ability to make a military contribution to NATO, etc.

A country can join NATO only if all its 30 member states support its membership, thus each member of NATO has a de facto veto. Accession protocols must be ratified, which might take 8 to 12 months. After ratification, the country becomes a member of NATO.

In the case of Finland and Sweden, NATO wants to complete the process quickly due to the imminent threat from Russia. However, Turkey, a member of NATO, recently blocked the attempt to fast-track the requests of Finland and Sweden. Turkey demanded that Finland and Sweden should extradite “terrorists” from their countries.

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