(Brussels) NATO on Tuesday began the process of integrating Sweden and Finland into a line of defense stretching from the Arctic to the Mediterranean against Russia, but achieving that goal depends on Ankara.
Posted at 6:08 am
Updated at 11:38 am
The ratification process began on Tuesday with the signing of the accession protocols by the ambassadors of the thirty member countries at the headquarters of the Atlantic Alliance in Brussels. “I’m counting on the speed of the allies,” launched Allianz Secretary General Jans Stoltenberg, who nonetheless urged caution.
“The last time (for North Macedonia) it took 12 months,” he recalled during a press conference with the foreign ministers of Sweden and Finland, Ann Linde and Pekka Haavisto.
Estonia will begin ratification on Wednesday, announced Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.
“Many allies have prepared for ratification as soon as possible, but it will take several months,” warned Jens Stoltenberg.
“The government estimates that the ratification process will take a year,” said Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.
Everything will depend on Turkey. Its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave his approval for the implementation of the procedure at the Madrid summit, but he reminded the two candidates of the commitments they had made.
“If they do their duty, we will submit (the accession protocol) to the Turkish parliament for approval, but ‘if they don’t, it is out of the question for us to submit it to the parliament…'” he warned.
Mr Erdogan referred to a “promise by Sweden” regarding the extradition of “73 terrorists”. Ankara has for several years in Stockholm been demanding the extradition of Kurdish activists and people associated with the movement founded by preacher Fethullah Gülen and accused by Turkish authorities of fomenting the July 2016 coup attempt.
Swedish Minister Ann Linde denied any promises made to Turkey on Tuesday. “In Madrid we didn’t talk about numbers or a list of extradition requests and we didn’t receive a list from Turkey,” she said.
Mme Both Linde and his Finnish counterpart also insisted on their governments’ willingness to comply with their countries’ legal procedures for processing extradition requests.
Jens Stoltenberg tried to calm the situation in the Spanish capital in the face of increasingly urgent questions about the commitments.
“From the Arctic to the South”
“The signing of the accession protocols is a historic day for Euro-Atlantic security as Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine has threatened peace in Europe,” he stressed. “It is important that we stand together in these dangerous times.”
The two Nordic countries have confirmed that they have given up their neutrality and decided to join NATO as the security situation in Europe has been worsened by Russia.
“Our collective security requires a 360-degree approach from the Arctic to the South,” said Finn Pekka Haavisto.
In Madrid, NATO strengthened its defense lines on its eastern flank, from the Baltic States to Bulgaria, and its naval and air presence in the Mediterranean and Black Seas.
The accessions of Sweden and Finland will bring “considerable forces” to consolidate this device in the Baltics.
Russian President “Vladimir Putin tried to close the door on NATO. We are showing him that he will remain open with the accession of Sweden and Finland,” said Jens Stoltenberg.
Three other partner countries have wanted to join the alliance in recent years: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Ukraine. In March, however, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared his willingness to give up this candidacy.
The signing of the accession protocols gives Sweden and Finland host country status.
But they will not benefit from the protection of Article 5 of the NATO Charter in the event of an attack until the 30 member countries have ratified their membership.
Several countries, including France, the United Kingdom and the United States, have pledged to help them in case of aggression during the interlude.