Canada is the first ally to ratify NATO applications from Sweden and Finland

OTTAWA – Canada has become the first country to ratify Sweden and Finland’s application to join NATO, bringing the two countries one step closer to full membership.

The Prime Minister’s Office said Justin Trudeau met with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson at the NATO summit last week.

In a statement, Trudeau said Canada upholds the alliance’s open door policy for any European country able to “advance the commitments and obligations of membership.”

The Finnish and Swedish ambassadors submitted formal NATO candidacy letters on May 18, and Canada’s federal cabinet issued orders-in-council on May 26 authorizing the Minister of Foreign Affairs to ratify the accession protocols of the two country.

The House of Commons also voted unanimously this spring to support the membership offers.

The 30 NATO allies signed Sweden and Finland’s accession protocols on Tuesday, sending the offers of membership to the alliance countries for legislative approval.

Canada deliberately released the Orders in Council on May 26 to expedite the ratification process and do so in hours instead of the usual months.

The move further reinforces Russia’s strategic isolation following its invasion of neighboring Ukraine in February and the military struggles that have unfolded there since.

“This is truly a historic moment for Finland, for Sweden and for NATO,” said the alliance’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg.

The 30 ambassadors and permanent representatives formally endorsed the decisions of NATO’s summit last week when the alliance took the historic decision to invite Russia’s neighbor Finland and Scandinavian partner Sweden to join the military club.

Despite the agreement within the alliance, parliamentary approval in the Turkish member state could still pose problems for their final inclusion as members.

Last week, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Ankara could still block the process if the two countries did not fully comply with Turkey’s request to extradite terrorist suspects with links to banned Kurdish groups or the network of an exiled cleric accused of a failed 2016 coup in Turkey.

He said the Turkish parliament may refuse to ratify the deal. This is a powerful threat since NATO membership must be formally approved by all 30 member states, giving everyone a right to block.

Stoltenberg said he expected no change of heart. “There were security issues that needed to be addressed. And we did what we always do in NATO. We have found common ground. »

Each nation in the alliance has different legislative challenges and procedures to deal with, and it could take several more months for both to become official members.

“I look forward to a speedy ratification process,” Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine gave the process added urgency. It will bring the two nations into the Western military alliance and give NATO more clout, especially in the face of the military threat from Moscow.

“We will be even stronger and our people will be even safer as we face the greatest security crisis in decades,” Stoltenberg said.

Tuesday’s signing already brings the two nations deeper into the NATO fold. As close partners, they have already attended some meetings on issues that have immediately affected them. As official guests, they can attend all ambassador meetings even if they do not yet have the right to vote.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 5, 2022.

— With files from the Associated Press


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