NATO’s Accession Protocol for Finland and Sweden

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    • North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO’s) 30 allies signed an accession protocol for Finland and Sweden.

    More about the news:

    • Signing of the protocol means both the countries can now participate in NATO meetings and have greater access to intelligence. 
    • But will not be protected by the NATO defence clause – that an attack on one ally is an attack against all – until ratification. 
      • That is likely to take up to a year.

    Challenges in the ratification:

    • Turkish Challenge:
      • Turkey is threatening to veto NATO membership for Sweden and Finland even as the military alliance has formally paved the way for the two Nordic countries to join.
      • Turkey will not ratify membership of the NATO for the applicants if they don’t fufill their promises to combat terrorism.
      • Background:
        • Turkey claims that two countries had provided safe haven to the leaders of the Kurdish group PKK, an armed movement fighting for a separate Kurdistan, comprising Kurdish areas in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.
    • Russian Challenge:
      • Russia has repeatedly warned both countries against joining NATO. 
      • The Russian foreign ministry has also said that “there will be serious military and political consequences” if this move poses a direct threat to Russia. 
      • Russia has issues with the expansion of military infrastructure into their territory which they claim “will certainly provoke their response.”
      • The seven-step membership process could take from four months to a year, raising concerns in both countries of a potential Russian attack before they are covered by Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, NATO’s legal framework, which pledges collective defence for all members.
      • Sweden and Finland’s stand:
        • Both Sweden and Finland have already stated that they are opposed to NATO deploying nuclear weapons or setting up military bases on its territory if admitted to the alliance.
      • NATO and its allies’ response:
        • Many allies have already made clear commitments to Finland and Sweden’s security.
        • NATO has increased its presence in the region, including with more exercises

    Significance

    • Security Assurance: Being a member of NATO will give the nations a security guarantee under the alliance’s “Article 5” on collective defence.
      • The article essentially guarantees a military response and protection by NATO countries if any member of the organisation comes under attack.
    • Bolster the Nordic Region: It would formalise their joint security and defence work” with neighbours Denmark, Norway, and Iceland.
    • Boost NATO’s Capability: The admission of Finland and Sweden would give NATO a contiguous long frontier in western Russia. 
      • Finland and Russia share a 1,300-km border and doubling it from the present 1,200 km, parts of NATO in northern Norway, Latvia and Estonia, and Poland and Lithuania.
      • Sweden’s island of Gotland in the middle of the Baltic Sea would give NATO a strategic advantage. 
      • The Baltic Sea is Russia’s gateway to the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean which would be ringed entirely by members of the western security alliance Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Denmark and Sweden.

    • Departure for Neutrality: In seeking NATO membership, Sweden and Finland have abandoned their long history of neutrality.
      • During the Cold War, their foreign policy and security priority was to stay out of superpower rivalry and maintain cordial ties with both blocs.

    Criticism

    • Some may see an expanding NATO and the growing role of the US in European security as a repetition of history where war was an ever-present threat. 
      • Even during the Cold War the US and the Soviet Union met regularly to reduce the risk of war, especially nuclear.
    • Economic instability:
      • Admission of both the countries in NATO will be followed by weeks and months of apprehension.
      • The uncertainty will be particularly disruptive for prospective foreign investors to the Nordic region, many of whom may fall into wait-and-see mode. 
      • When foreign companies set up brand new operations in a country, it is with a very long-term view. 
      • For some of those currently considering Finland or Sweden, the decision to join (or not to join) NATO may be a deal-breaker.

    NATO

    • North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a military alliance made up of the United States, Canada, France, and eight other European countries.
    • It was founded in 1949. 
    • It currently has 30 members, with 27 from Europe, two from North America, and one from Eurasia
    • The key purpose of NATO’s formation was to create a “collective defence” against any potential German or Soviet Union attack in the aftermath of World War II.
    • Article 5: If a NATO member attacks another member, it is considered ‘an attack on all NATO members, according to Article 5 of NATO.
    • NATO’s support is restricted without membership. It does not, for example, commit to sending troops to non-member countries. 
      • It has, however, dispatched troops to neighbouring nations and expressed public support for Ukraine.
    • Membership of NATO 
      • It is open to all European nations that fulfil certain criteria that include “a functioning democratic political system based on a market economy; fair treatment of minority populations; a commitment to resolve conflicts peacefully; an ability and willingness to make a military contribution to NATO operations; and a commitment to democratic civil-military relations and institutions”.
      • New members are admitted with the unanimous consent of all members
    • Who controls NATO?
      • The Military Committee, NATO’s highest military authority, is in charge of NATO’s Command Structure (NCS), which is made up of the Chiefs of Defence of all twenty-nine member countries. 
      • Allied Command Operations (ACO) and Allied Command Transformation (ACT) are the two strategic commands that make up the NCS (ACT).

    Source: TH