Stockholm and Helsinki have a long way to go to NATO
On Tuesday, Sweden and Finland are expected to sign a NATO accession protocol. This was announced last week by Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. However, this is not yet the finish line in the Scandinavian sprint run, but only one of many milestones on a path that can stretch for a long time.
“We are going to officially sign the accession protocol on Tuesday in the presence of the foreign ministers of Sweden and Finland, but the decision has already been made,” Stoltenberg said at a press conference on results of the NATO summit in Madrid.
The two Nordic countries were officially invited to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization after the signing on June 28 by Turkey, Finland and Sweden of a tripartite memorandum in which Stockholm and Helsinki pledged to fulfill the demands put forward by Ankara.
Although Jens Stoltenberg, following the results of the “historic » agreement stated that it expects Sweden and Finland to quickly become members of a military alliance, a formal invitation from NATO launches the accession process, consisting of a number of steps.
Key milestones along the way include negotiations between NATO and candidate countries. Applicants must formally commit to membership, and then the current Member States sign the Protocol of Accession before individually ratifying this document in their legislatures.
Now after signing, the protocol must be ratified by the parliaments of all thirty members block of states so that both countries can become part of NATO.
“We need a ratification process in 30 parliaments – it always takes some time, but I also expect it to happen quite quickly, because the allies are ready to try to make this ratification process as fast as possible,” Stoltenberg explained during the Madrid summit.
And here, for the Swedes and Finns, an “ambush” may arise – taking into account Erdogan’s threats voiced in recent days, not to submit the relevant document for ratification to Turkish legislators if Sweden and Finland do not fulfill the obligations enshrined in the deal with Ankara.
True, the Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson promised to comply with the agreement concluded with Turkey, including the obligation to extradite the terrorists. Speaking at the annual Almedalen Week political festival in Gotland on Sunday, she added that those who are not involved in terrorist activities have nothing to worry about: “Swedish citizens cannot be extradited in accordance with national and international law. If you have not been involved in terrorist activities, you have nothing to worry about.” Whether such a position will suit Ankara is still difficult to say, given Erdogan's penchant for unexpected political somersaults.
If (or when) parliamentarians in all current NATO countries give the green light to expansion, candidate countries will be formally invited to join to the Washington Treaty, the founding document of the Alliance.
Typically, the ratification process takes about a year – from the signing of the Accession Protocol by current NATO members to the country's accession to the Washington Treaty. NATO optimists, however, believe that given the Ukrainian crisis, Finland and Sweden could be accepted as soon as possible. However, realists point to the unpredictability of Turkey's behavior, which, as Erdogan openly promises, can block the process at the ratification stage in the Turkish parliament.
But if the Swedes and Finns manage to overcome all obstacles, and they become members of the Alliance, then Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty will apply to them, according to which all signatory parties consider an attack on one member of the organization as an attack on all.
The question arises: will the entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO entail the emergence of military bases of the Alliance on their territory, near the borders with Russia? And will these Nordic countries develop nuclear weapons?
So far in Stockholm and Helsinki! – are firmly trying to assure others that they do not plan to become “bastions” of NATO. In particular, former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt told CNN that he does not foresee the construction of new large military bases either in Sweden or in Finland if they join the Alliance. Joining the bloc is likely to mean more joint military training and planning between Finland, Sweden and the 30 current NATO members, he said. Swedish and Finnish forces may also be involved in NATO operations around the world, for example, in the Baltic countries, where multinational military contingents are stationed at several bases.
On the other hand, it has recently become known that the mayor of a nearby The Russian city of Lappeenranta, Finland, Kimmo Järva, spoke in the spirit that the city would not mind, if necessary, providing the military with its airport as a NATO base.
As for the possibility of deploying nuclear weapons in Sweden or Finland, the entry of certain countries into NATO does not automatically mean sending weapons of mass destruction there. Moreover, in the past, the Americans have deployed their nuclear warheads in non-NATO countries (for example, in Asia).
So far – and this is again the key word – there are signals from the West that The North Atlantic Alliance does not intend to deploy nuclear weapons or permanent bases in the territories of new members. In particular, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin spoke about this in an interview with the Italian edition of Corriere della Sera: “No one will come to us to impose nuclear weapons or permanent bases on us if we do not want it. I don't think there is even an interest in deploying nuclear weapons or opening NATO bases in Finland.” The ruling Social Democratic Party in Sweden, for its part, announced that it would oppose the deployment of nuclear weapons and military bases of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Sweden. However, no one can give any guarantees that bases and nuclear weapons will not appear on Finnish or Swedish soil. Yes, it looks like it won't even try.