World and Nation

Finland, Sweden, and Türkiye sign NATO membership Agreement

Stoltenberg: This memorandum is ‘exactly the opposite’ of what Putin wanted

The foreign ministers of Türkiye, Finland, and Sweden have signed an agreement on the entry of the latter two countries into NATO, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced in an impromptu press conference Tuesday.

Stoltenberg called NATO’s open door policy “a historic success” and stated that “we are demonstrating that NATO’s doors are open, NATO’s doors are open.”

Finland and Sweden are not currently NATO member states, but have been seeking membership following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The two nations formally applied for membership mid-May.

Progress on Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO bids was a primary goal of this summit; the agenda emphasized that “as authoritarian regimes contest core principles for our security, the Alliance must work even more closely with like-minded countries and organizations.”

According to NATO’s Accession Protocol, the entry of a country into the alliance requires unanimous approval from all existing member states; Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of Türkiye, had been vocal in his opposition to Finland and Sweden’s entry to the association. 

Türkiye's primary objection stemmed from Finland’s and Sweden's resistance to extraditing insurgent fighters from the Kurdistan’s Worker’s Party (PKK). While the US, EU, and Turkey list the PKK as a terrorist organization, several PKK affiliates were instrumental to the fight against ISIS, and are not considered terrorist groups.

On Tuesday evening, after weeks of talks, the three countries reached an agreement.

“Our foreign ministers signed a trilateral memorandum which confirms that Türkiye will, at the Madrid Summit this week, support the invitation of Finland and Sweden to become members of NATO,” Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said in a statement June 28.

“Our joint memorandum underscores the commitment of Finland, Sweden and Türkiye to extend their full support against threats to each other’s security. Us becoming NATO allies will further strengthen this commitment,” Niinistö added. Meanwhile, Ankara announced that it "got what it wanted" from the talks.

Stoltenberg refrained from outlining the precise agreement the countries had come to on handling extradition requests, but reaffirmed NATO’s declaration of PKK as a terrorist organization. “Finland and Sweden as NATO allies regard PKK as a terrorist organization,” Stoltenberg stated. He added that “terrorism is something we have to fight in all its manifestations” and that the joint memorandum “reflects that reality.”

Stoltenberg proclaimed that the memorandum is “exactly the opposite of what President Putin wanted.” With Sweden’s and Finland’s entries into NATO, the land border between Russia and NATO territories would more than double – from around 750 miles to approximately 1,600 miles. Since NATO forces can be freely deployed in NATO countries, this amounts to a significant increase in the pressure NATO may exert on Putin.

Update 06/29/2022: A previous version of this article stated that a primary goal of this summit was progress on Finland’s and Sweden’s membership applications; this has since been corrected to “progress on Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO bids.” Other small edits have been made for context and clarification.