Finland and Sweden to Join NATO

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    • Recently, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Secretary-General announced the signing of a MoU between Turkey, Finland and Sweden in a trilateral meeting held in Madrid, Spain.

    About the memorandum of understanding

    • The key provisions of the MoU include the following three points:
      • A joint commitment between Turkey, Finland, and Sweden to counter terrorism.
      • Addressing the pending extradition of terror suspects through a bilateral legal framework.
      • Investigating and interdicting any financing and recruitment activities of the PKK and all other terrorist organisations.
        • The Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK is a Kurdish militant political organisation and armed guerrilla movement, which historically operated throughout Kurdistan, but is now primarily based in the mountainous Kurdish-majority regions of southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq.
    • National regulatory frameworks: Finland and Sweden assured that their respective national regulatory frameworks for arms exports enable new commitments to Allies.
    • CSDP and PESCO: Both countries also promised to stand against disinformation and to fully commit to the EU’s CSDP (Common Security and Defence Policy) and Turkey’s participation in the PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation) Project on Military Mobility.

    Why did Turkey withdraw its opposition?

    • Kurdish issue: Turkey was initially against Finland and Sweden joining NATO. Though there were no direct bilateral issues between Turkey with Sweden and Finland, Turkey was against the two for their position on the Kurdish issue and extradition of activists.
    • Counter-terrorism provisions: Finland and Sweden should promise to address counter-terrorism provisions within their countries.
      • Finland has committed to modify its criminal code, and Sweden has assured to implement the new Terrorist Offenses Act.
    • Extraditions: Finland and Sweden have now agreed to execute the pending deportations or extraditions of listed terror suspects made by Turkey.
    • Lifting the arms embargo: There has been no clear definition about the category of weapons, but Finland and Sweden will remove the arms embargo against Turkey.

    Finland and Sweden’s stand

    • Against democratic norms and rights: Finland and Sweden have considered the Turkish President as an authoritarian ruler against democratic norms and rights.
      • The earlier positions of both countries on Turkey were based more on their principles relating to democracy, separatism, the rule of law etc.
    • Security threat from Russia: The fear of their own national security has pushed both nations to join NATO which in turn has made them agree to Turkey’s conditions.

    What does this mean for Russia?

    • Russia shares a 1,340 kilometre long border with Finland.
    • Sweden: though it does not share a land border, shares the Baltic Sea with Russia.
    • The land/sea borders with Russia place both countries under direct threat from Russia.
    • Russian authorities said that there are no territorial disputes with these two countries; hence they should not worry about any security threat from Russia.
    • Since 1948, Finland, Sweden and Russia have maintained economic cooperation, but the relations always remained strained due to the Cold War and Finland’s neutrality principle.
    • The two countries joining NATO will undermine Russia’s interests in the Arctic remains to be seen.
      • Both Sweden and Finland are part of the Arctic States.
      • Russia currently holds the Arctic Council chair and will remain the chair until 2023.
    • For Russia: Finland and Sweden joining NATO not only means an increased NATO presence in its neighbourhood but also questions its Arctic interests.

    Significance for NATO

    • Strengthening the alliance: Both Finland and Sweden which have followed the non alignment principle have broken from their natural rule and decided to join NATO.
      • This does not only mean guarantee of security against Russia but it also gives NATO the power to engage.
    • NATO will gain strategic ground to counter Russia: The addition of more allies means a steady expansion of NATO towards the East, through which it will now be able to exercise its military operations both on land and in the Baltic Sea, where Russia holds a strategic position.
    • NATO will now also be able to position its weapon systems: further its combat formation and plan its attack techniques to power up deterrence and defence.
    • A secured Euro-Atlantic: NATO presence in the region will securitise and safeguard the Baltic States, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which were earlier at risk due to their close proximity to Russia and Russian attacks.
    • Help to Ukraine: This will not only help Ukraine win the war but will also enable NATO to bring in advanced weapons such as fifth-generation aircraft, technological weapon systems and strong political institutions across the allied countries.

    Source: TH