In a recent development, after multiple delays, Turkey has approved Sweden’s NATO bid. On Tuesday, the Turkish parliament gave its approval for Sweden’s bid to join NATO. This decision brings the Nordic country closer to becoming a member of the military alliance despite the delays that have been experienced in recent months.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 prompted Sweden and Finland to shift long-held neutral security policies, and the two countries applied to join NATO in May 2022.
Finland got its membership in April 2023, while Sweden is still waiting due to a delay in ratification by Turkey and Hungary.
What is NATO?
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is a military alliance formed by the North Atlantic Treaty (also called the Washington Treaty) of April 4, 1949. NATO was founded after the end of World War II by 12 countries: the U.S., the UK, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Luxembourg, Iceland, Denmark, and Belgium.
The United States of America created it to Counter the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) during the Cold War.
The crux of NATO lies in Article 5 of the treaty, which says that an attack on any of the members shall be deemed an attack against all the members, and they shall respond in the defence of such country as per the collective security agreement.
How Does a Country Become a NATO Member?
Based on Article 10 of the charter, NATO follows an ‘open door policy’ which allows any country to join the treaty.
Becoming a member of NATO is a lengthy process that requires several steps to be completed. Firstly, NATO sends an official invitation to the country seeking membership, and then a seven-step participation process begins.
- NATO experts and representatives from the invited country meet in Brussels to discuss whether the country meets NATO’s political, legal, and military requirements.
2. The invited country sends an official letter of intent to the NATO secretary-general, accepting the obligations and commitments of NATO membership.
3. NATO prepares additional accession protocols to the Washington Treaty to update the alliance’s founding agreement. NATO countries then sign these protocols.
4. All NATO member states must ratify the protocols in line with their national laws and procedures.
5. All member states notify the U.S. – which hosts the treaty – after completing their ratification processes.
6. When all these stages are completed, in step six, the NATO secretary-general invites the new member to join the alliance.
7. Finally, the new member completes its national legal process and submits its accession document to the U.S., which holds the Washington Treaty and becomes a NATO member.
Where is Sweden Stuck Now?
Stockholm is currently stuck at stage four, which requires ratification from the parliament of all member states in order for it to proceed.
Till now, Turkey had been stalling the process, citing concerns about Sweden harbouring Kurdish separatists, particularly members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), recognised as a terrorist group by the E.U., the U.S., and the Turkish government.
As Ankara cleared the ratification process, Hungary is the last member that needs to ratify the protocol. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has affirmed his support for Sweden’s bid for membership and has held he is urging the parliament to ratify it at the first possible opportunity.
What Lies Ahead?
Once Hungary ratifies Sweden’s membership bid, it will be a cakewalk for Stockholm. After ratification, the nations have to send a notification to the USA, which hosts the treaty.
Next up, the NATO secretary general will invite Sweden to join the treaty, after which it needs to ratify it at the national level and submit the documents to the USA, becoming a full-time member.