It is a historic turning point for both countries: Sweden and Finland officially submit their applications for NATO membership in Brussels. Now the Council of the Alliance must decide. Question marks hang over Turkey's stance.
Sweden and Finland have officially applied for NATO membership. Ambassadors from the two countries handed over the relevant documents to Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the morning at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels. The reason for Sweden and Finland's desire to join the military alliance are security concerns that arose in the countries in the wake of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine. Until then, both states had resolutely pursued a policy of military non-alignment.
The NATO Council will now deal with the applications for membership. It is made up of representatives of the 30 alliance states, who have to make a consensus decision on how to proceed. The historic developments are overshadowed by the veto threats from NATO member Turkey. The latter had recently made it clear several times that it would only agree to the accession of Finland and Sweden in exchange for concessions.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan explains his stance with the two countries' alleged support for the banned Kurdish Workers' Party PKK and the Kurdish militia YPG in Syria. At the same time, criticism has been leveled at the fact that NATO countries have restricted the delivery of armaments because of Turkey's actions against these groups.
Until recently, it was unclear how Turkey could be prevented from vetoing Sweden and Finland's NATO membership. According to diplomats, in addition to statements by the two northerners on the fight against terrorism, arms deals could also play a role. The government in Ankara wants to buy F-16 fighter jets in the USA - but a possible deal was politically controversial in Washington recently.