Turkey clears way for Finland, Sweden's NATO membership: All you need to know
- The countries have been diplomatically engaging for weeks
- NATO chief called it a "historic decision"
- NATO's voting mandate requires consensus between all states
Turkey has agreed to let Finland and Sweden become part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance formed to curb Russian aggression. The two Nordic countries launched their bid to join the group a few months after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 this year.
After weeks of diplomatic engagements between Turkey, Finland, Sweden and NATO officials, the "historic decision" was announced on Tuesday. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said that all stakeholders had reached "an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO", Associated Press reported.
The leaders of Finland, Turkey and Sweden had signed a joint agreement to break the diplomatic logjam, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said.
What was the holdup about?
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had threatened to block the Nordic pair, insisting they change their stance on Kurdish rebel groups that Turkey considers terrorists.
Turkey had demanded that Finland and Sweden extradite wanted individuals and lift arms restrictions imposed after Turkey’s 2019 military incursion into northeast Syria.
Turkey, in turn, agreed “to support at the 2022 Madrid Summit the invitation of Finland and Sweden to become members of NATO.”
Why was Turkey's vote so important?
The NATO charter states that the alliance will work on consensus, which means that even if one country decides the hold out from a vote, it may never go through. This meant that if Turkey had continued to block Finland and Sweden's membership, the NATO expansion would have stopped for now.
Stoltenberg said leaders of the 30-nation alliance will issue a formal invitation to the two countries to join on Wednesday. The decision has to be ratified by all individual nations, but he said he was “absolutely confident” Finland and Sweden would become members, something that could happen within months.