Sweden and Finland: joining NATO in a hurry?

Status: 05/09/2022 5:28 p.m.

The ruling parties of Sweden and Finland want to decide this week on their position on their country’s NATO membership. Membership formalities could be completed in two weeks.

Sweden and Finland could join NATO very quickly. Assuming the two countries decide to join NATO, it could take as little as two weeks from applying to signing membership protocols, a NATO official in Brussels said. One day per country is probably sufficient for the accession negotiations themselves.

“We won’t wait for the Madrid summit to make decisions,” the official said, referring to speculation that the decision to admit the two countries could be announced at a meeting of heads of state and government in the Spanish capital at the end of June. .

Once the admission process has been completed, the accession protocols still have to be ratified by the 30 NATO countries. Although it may take a few months, it is likely that member states will rush amid Russian threats against aspiring members. In Germany, the Bundestag must approve admission.

decisions this week

Before that, however, the parliaments of Finland and Sweden must decide whether to join. This is considered likely because, for the first time since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, majorities of the population in the polls voted in favor of their country joining the defense alliance. In Finland, according to an opinion poll commissioned by broadcaster Yle, popularity currently stands at 76% of those polled.

Approval therefore reaches all ages and all social classes. Only twelve percent of the population are against, eleven percent are undecided. In March, the response was still 62%. Finnish President Sauli Niinistö wants to make his position on possible membership known by Thursday at the latest, he announced. The ruling Social Democrats want to announce their decision on Saturday.

A day later, on Sunday, the Swedish Social Democrats also want to explain their position on NATO membership. So far they have always been against it, but last week Prime Minister and party leader Magdalena Andersson said the conflict in Ukraine was forcing her country to reassess this issue. She described Russia’s attack on Ukraine as a “deep and radical turning point”. If the ruling party decided now to join NATO, the way would probably be cleared because there would then be a large parliamentary majority.

Known partners

Sweden and Finland have been neutral for decades, but since the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine there has been intense debate in both countries over NATO membership – public opinion has finally returned. However, the countries were already close partners in the military alliance before that. NATO units and the Swedish and Finnish armies have repeatedly practiced maneuvers together in the past.

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