Brussels (The Times Groupe)- Finland and Sweden have formally submitted their applications for membership in NATO, indicating a dramatic shift in Europe’s security landscape in response to Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general, accepted the Nordic neighbors’ membership applications in a white folder embossed with their flags, at the headquarters of the US-led defensive alliance in Brussels
“I am pleased that Finland and Sweden have requested membership in NATO. “You are our closest partners,” Stoltenberg told the nations’ ambassadors, hailing the event as “a historic step” and “a good day at a critical time for our security”.
NATO ambassadors will discuss the applications on Wednesday and could formally open talks with the pair about their requests, but Turkey has raised objections that may delay or stall the process.
NATO must get 30 of its member countries’ approvals before enlargement can take place. If approved, it must be ratified by their parliaments, which can take up to a year. The alliance is pressing for a speedy process because of a potential Russian threat looming over Finland and Sweden’s heads.
In its response, Turkey cited Sweden’s and Finland’s support for members of Kurdish militant groups, as well as their decisions in 2019 to impose embargoes on Ankara over Turkey’s military operations in Syria.