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Ukraine conflict: NATO invites Finland and Sweden to become alliance members

NATO enlargement from 1952 to the present. (Janes/NATO)

NATO leaders invited Finland and Sweden to become the alliance's 31st and 32nd members on the first day of their 29–30 June summit in Madrid. Speaking to journalists on 29 June, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described the invitation as a “historic decision”.

It will enable NATO to prepare accession protocols for Finland and Sweden, amending the 1949 Washington Treaty that created the alliance for signature and ratification by allies. For many of NATO's 30 members, ratification requires parliamentary approval, although for some, executive approval is sufficient. Asked by a journalist how long this would take, Stoltenberg responded, “so far this is the fastest accession process ever”, expecting ratification “as soon as possible”.

Once all NATO member countries notify the US government – the depository of the Washington Treaty – of their acceptance of the protocols to the North Atlantic Treaty on the accession of Finland and Sweden, the NATO secretary general will invite the two countries to accede to the treaty. After Finland and Sweden accede to the North Atlantic Treaty and deposit their instruments of accession with the US State Department, they will formally become NATO members.

The Finnish and Swedish ambassadors to NATO, Klaus Korhonen and Axel Wernhoff, submitted the official letters of application to become alliance members, on 18 May.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's threatened blockage of Finland and Sweden's application was overcome on 28 June by an agreement between Turkey, Finland, and Sweden brokered by Stoltenberg in Madrid on the eve of the summit, in which the two Nordic countries pledged to support Turkish national security and not to support Kurdish organisations.

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