NATO Leaders Officially Invite Sweden, Finland to Join Alliance

© AFP 2023 / JOHANNA GERONA photograph shows flags of Finland, NATO and Sweden during a ceremony during a ceremony to mark Sweden's and Finland's application for membership in Brussels, on May 18, 2022
A photograph shows flags of Finland, NATO and Sweden during a ceremony during a ceremony to mark Sweden's and Finland's application for membership in Brussels, on May 18, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.06.2022
The invitation was made possible after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dropped his objection to the Nordic nations' membership in the bloc. Ankara held up Finland and Sweden's NATO bids for weeks over the countries' sheltering of Kurdish paramilitaries Turkey classifies as 'terrorists'.
NATO formally invited Finland and Sweden into the alliance on Wednesday at its Madrid summit.
"Today, we have decided to invite Finland and Sweden to become members of NATO, and agreed to sign the Accession Protocols. In any accession to the Alliance, it is of vital importance that the legitimate security concerns of all Allies are properly addressed. We welcome the conclusion of the trilateral memorandum between Turkiye, Finland, and Sweden to that effect," the bloc said in its official summit declaration.
The alliance stressed that the Nordic countries' security was "of direct importance to the Alliance, including during the accession process," and characterized the invitation as a reaffirmation of its "commitment to [the] Open Door Policy" on alliance membership.
The declaration also said that it "warmly" welcomes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's participation in the summit, and indicated that NATO stands "in full solidarity" with Ukraine, and "fully supports" Kiev's "inherent right to self-defense and to choose its own security arrangements."
"In light of the changed security environment in Europe, we have decided on new measures to step up tailored political and practical support to partners, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova. We will work with them to build their integrity and resilience, develop capabilities, and uphold their political independence," the statement said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hold a joint press conference following a meeting in Kiev on October 31, 2019 - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.05.2022
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Turkey (also known as Turkiye) dropped its veto on Finnish and Swedish membership in NATO on Tuesday, with the three countries reaching a deal to protect one another's security and enhance "counter-terrorism" cooperation. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the agreement will require Stockholm to work closely with Ankara on extradition requests for persons suspected of illegal activity in Turkey. The deal will also require both Nordic nations to toughen their position on Kurdish forces the Turkish government considers a threat, and to drop arms embargoes against Turkey.
"The governments of Turkiye, Finland and Sweden have agreed to enhance their cooperation on counter-terrorism. As NATO Allies, Finland and Sweden commit to fully support Turkiye against threats to its national security. This includes further amending their domestic legislation. Cracking down on PKK [Kurdish Worker's Party] activities. And entering into an agreement with Turkiye on extradition," Stoltenberg said in a press statement.
The Nato logo is pictured during a panel discussion at an official NATO outreach event, 'Nato Engages' in central London on December 3, 2019, prior to the NATO alliance summit - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.06.2022
Turkey Makes Deal With Sweden, Finland to Drop Opposition to Their NATO Applications
The Nordic nations' push to join the Western alliance comes after many decades of principled neutrality by both countries, with Finland managing to remain one of the few European countries to remain neutral throughout the second half of the 20th century during the Cold War and the decades that followed. Sweden enjoyed bloc neutrality since the early 19th century, managing to stay out of both the First and Second World Wars, and to remain formally neutral during the Cold War. Both countries have justified their membership bids for the alliance by citing the crisis in Ukraine and the Russian "threat."
Russia has expressed concerns about the two countries' entry bid, including the prospects of the Baltic Sea being turned into a 'NATO lake', and the potential militarization of the 1,340 km long shared border it has with Finland. Last month, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that "the latest expansion of NATO will not make our continent more stable and secure."
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