When Will Finland and Sweden Join NATO? That Remains To Be Seen

In September, the U.S. ambassador to Finland predicted, perhaps too hastily, that Finland and Sweden would “become official NATO members by Christmas.” It is now December 22 and while most believe the two Nordic countries will eventually be accepted into the 30-member alliance, it does not appear it will happen in the timeframe predicted by the U.S. diplomat.

The two Nordic countries were prompted to apply for NATO membership once Russia launched its war against Ukraine. What is standing in the way of Sweden and Finland joining the military alliance? Hungary and Turkey. Twenty-eight members approved the membership already. While, as the New York Times reports, Hungary continues to hold out, it is expected that the former Soviet satellite will vote on the membership next year.

This tracks with what Douglas Hickey, the U.S. ambassador to Finland, projected. Conversations he’s held with is Hungarian counterpart point to Hungary voting in favor of the expansion. Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, who maintains friendly ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin despite being a member of the European Union and NATO, dispelled concerns when he informed journalists in November that Hungary’s parliament would approve the membership early net year.

Turkey, however, seems more willing to delay the vote for months, or might possibly block the expansion all together. While most NATO leaders enthusiastically favored the Nordic neighbors in joining the alliance, Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “has focused on issues closer to home as he tries to bolster his image as a strong international leader.” In particular, Mr. Erdogan accuses both countries, specifically Sweden, of supporting the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, a Kurdish nationalist group in Turkey that Turkey, along with the United States and European Union), classify as a terrorist organization.

All signs seemed to point toward Finland and Sweden successfully joining the alliance, and soon. The three countries – Finland, Sweden, and Turkey – met during the NATO summit this past summer in Madrid to work through Mr. Erdogan’s demands. Turkey remains the last true hold out, frustrating his NATO allies who desperately want Finland and Sweden to join NATO as the fight with Russia over its war in Ukraine continues. Mr. Hickey believes, however, that Mr. Erdogan will not be the “lone holdout.” How long Turkey holds out – and when Sweden and Finland will be rightfully accepted into NATO – is anyone’s guess.

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  1. Paul Kott

    Stop all the diplomatic bogus garbage, let these two deserving countries in asap.
    Democracy must prevail throughout this world of ours!


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