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Sweden and Finland inched closer to joining NATO on Tuesday as ambassadors for all 30 member nations signed accession protocols for the two Nordic states to join the alliance.
“This is truly an historic moment. For Finland, for Sweden, for NATO, and for our shared security,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said of the alliance’s most significant expansion in decades.
The legislatures for each individual country must now approve Sweden and Finland’s bids, a process that could take months.
Canada was the first country out of the gates to ratify the accession protocols, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling for allies to “move swiftly to complete their ratification processes to limit opportunities for interference by adversaries.”
Sweden and Finland applied for membership in May, but their entry appeared to hit a snag when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded that the countries extradite members of a Kurdish rebel group that Turkey considers terrorists.
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The three countries came to a joint agreement last week, which Sweden and Finland promised to hold up on Tuesday.
“We will honor the memorandum fully. There is, of course, no lists or anything like that in the memorandum, but what we will do is to have better cooperation when it comes to terrorists,” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said at a news conference.
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Erdogan warned after the agreement was signed that Turkey’s parliament won’t approve the accession protocols unless the Nordic nations “fulfill their duties.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February spurred the historically neutral Sweden and Finland to apply for NATO membership. If approved, Russia’s border with NATO countries would more than double.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.