ISTANBUL – Representatives from NATO's 30 member states on Tuesday signed accession protocols for Finland and Sweden, after their invitations to the military alliance at the historic summit in Madrid last week.
The NATO secretary general and the foreign ministers of Finland and Sweden held a press conference in Brussels following the signing of protocols, where they answered journalists’ questions about the trilateral memorandum with Türkiye, in which they pledged to address Ankara’s concerns about their stance on the PKK and FETO terror groups.
Reminding that the NATO allies had agreed to invite the two Scandinavian countries to join the alliance, Jens Stoltenberg said NATO ambassadors had just signed the accession protocols for Finland and Sweden.
“This is a historic day for Finland, for Sweden, for NATO and for Euro-Atlantic security,” he said, adding: "Today, we have shown once again that NATO's door is open.”
The NATO chief also thanked Ankara, Helsinki, and Stockholm for their “constructive approach.”
“Trilateral agreement they signed at the Madrid summit made today possible,” he said.
“I know all three parties are working hard on the implementation and robust follow-through, especially in the fight against terrorism,” he said.
Stoltenberg said the next step now is to “ensure the speed ratification” of the accession according to their national procedures.
Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, meanwhile, said the Madrid summit made a “historic decision” to invite Finland and Sweden to become members of the alliance.
“I am pleased to see the signing of the accession protocol by all NATO allies,” he said. “Look forward to participating in the work of the alliance as an invitee member from now on.”
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said her country will contribute to the “security of all allies.”
She believes that joining NATO is the best way for Sweden to “ensure our national security and keep Swedish people safe.”
On the historic memorandum signed by Ankara, Helsinki, and Stockholm at the summit, the top Swedish diplomat said: “We made a memorandum of understanding between Finland, Sweden, and Türkiye to address the concern of Türkiye when it comes to security and terrorism.
“We will honor that memorandum. We will also have a joint mechanism.”
She expressed her hopes for a quick ratification process.
In response to questions about the memorandum, Stoltenberg said: “I think that the unity that NATO allies have demonstrated by inviting Finland (and) Sweden to join and also the unity we demonstrated at the Madrid summit shows how NATO is able to deliver when we need to stand together.”
Finland’s foreign minister, for his part, said his country has always had a “very good and long-term relationship” with Türkiye.
“When Türkiye applied for EU membership, we were one of those countries that advocated (for) that process,” he said.
So this constant communication, of course, will continue now also during this ratification process, he said.
“In this document, and in this memorandum, we have actually addressed all those concerns that also Türkiye raised, including the terrorists, the PKK,” he added.
Stoltenberg said the memorandum is “very important” because it is a “strong document” that provides a good platform for Finland, Sweden, and Türkiye to work together in fighting terrorism, which, he defines as a “great concern” for all the allies.
The two countries shunned neutrality and applied to join NATO in May, a decision spurred on by Russia's war on Ukraine.
But Türkiye, a longstanding member of the alliance, voiced objections to their membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups.
Ahead of the summit, Ankara and the two Scandinavian countries signed the memorandum after four-way talks including NATO in Madrid.
The agreement allows the two Nordic countries to become NATO members but conditioned them to take steps on Türkiye's terrorism concerns and lift an arms embargo on Ankara.
Following the trilateral deal, NATO formally invited Sweden and Finland to join the 30-member military alliance. (Anadolu)