Why is Sweden is left behind in the Nordic NATO bid? | Explainer News

After decades of staying out of military alliances, this past May Finland and neighboring Sweden announced an offer to join NATO following Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine.

With Türkiye becomes As the last and 30th member to ratify Finland’s bid on Thursday, Finland is expected to finalize its membership in the coming days, while Sweden continues to face opposition. opposite to.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö tweeted after Turkey’s decision: “We look forward to welcoming Sweden to join us as soon as possible.”

Here are five things to know about the two countries’ membership bids and why Sweden’s bid has slowed.

Why did the two Nordic countries make a historical turning point?

For decades, most Swedes and Finns supported maintaining their policy of military non-alignment.

However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year caused major changes.

The change is particularly dramatic in Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometer border with Russia.

Prior to adoption, public support for NATO membership had remained steady at 20-30% for two decades, but a February poll found that 82% were satisfied with the decision to join. join the alliance, according to AFP news agency.

A Swedish poll in January had 63% of Swedes in favor of joining the bloc.

During the Cold War, Finland remained neutral in exchange for assurances from Moscow that it would not invade. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, Finland remained militarily unaligned.

Sweden adopted a policy of formal neutrality after the Napoleonic wars in the 19th century, which was revised to a policy of military non-alignment after the end of the Cold War.

What is the reason for the split entry?

The Nordic neighbors were initially adamant about joining the union together, agreeing to submit applications at the same time.

Despite assurances that they would be welcomed with “open arms,” ​​their application was quickly met with resistance, mainly from NATO member Turkey.

Applications to join NATO must be approved by all members of the alliance.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in mid-March asked parliament to approve Finland’s bid, but delayed Sweden after a series of disputes.

Likewise, when Hungary approved the Finnish bid on March 27, the Swedish bid was pushed “later”.

Hungary is delaying Sweden’s accession, citing criticism of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s policies. However, Budapest is likely to accept Sweden’s proposal if it sees Türkiye making a move to do so.

Meanwhile, Finland decided to move on, even if it meant leaving Sweden behind.

Since the Finnish parliament has approved the application, all that needs to be done now after all approvals have been secured is to submit an “accession instrument” in Washington to complete the membership.

What is Türkiye’s problem with Sweden?

Sweden, Finland and Turkey signed a tripartite memorandum of understanding at the NATO summit last June to secure the start of the accession process.

However, Ankara has repeatedly confronted Stockholm, saying its demands have yet to be met, especially for the extradition of Turkish nationals that Turkey wants to prosecute for “terrorist crimes”. dad”.

Ankara accuses Sweden of providing a safe haven for “terrorists”, namely members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey and the Democratic Unionist Party (PKK). owner (PYD) in Syria, which Ankara believes has links to the PKK.

Negotiations between the states were temporarily suspended in early 2023, following protests, involving both the burning of the Quran and the hanging of an effigy of Erdogan, held in Stockholm.

For Sweden, the timeline remains uncertain. Negotiations between Sweden and Türkiye have made little progress.

Neither Türkiye nor Sweden have scheduled a parliamentary vote on Sweden’s application, but the NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Getting Swedish applications online is a top priority.

He said he expects both Finland and Sweden to be members by the time of the alliance summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11 and 12.

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