Finland and Sweden Pursuing NATO Membership
Libby O'Connell| feb 6, 2023
The war in Ukraine has led nations across the globe to rethink their security strategies after seeing the violent effects of Putin’s use of power. Preparedness for conflict is now especially urgent, and membership in alliances such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization provide security in the protection given by member states.
The NATO membership process for Finland and Sweden has become increasingly complex as Turkey, one of the last countries to approve the potential members, faces new oppositions to Sweden but nears approval of Finland’s membership.
Finland and Sweden both applied for membership in NATO last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with expectations to enter the alliance together after both having had histories of military non-alliance. For Finland and Sweden, the military protection that NATO offers has become increasingly desirable because their close proximities to Russia have become higher risks. Finland in particular, as it shares a border with Russia, is vulnerable to Russian invasion and would benefit greatly from allied protection if it were to face an attack. In order for a country to join NATO, all thirty member countries must vote to approve their membership, and to date, Turkey and Hungary are the only countries who have not yet voted to approve of Finland and Sweden entering.
Turkey has been meeting with Finland and Sweden for months to discuss the matters, yet Turkey has now halted these talks due to recent events in Sweden. Protests occurred last week in Stockholm that included a burning of the Quran, and Turkey wants Sweden to take a clearer stance on opposing terrorism if they are to approve of Sweden’s membership. Turkey also wishes that Sweden would impose stronger retaliations on the several citizens in the country who are linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who Turkey has labeled as a terrorist group and who were blamed for a coup attempt in Turkey in 2016.
Turkey is refusing to approve of Sweden’s membership until changes in these matters are made, despite Finland’s and Sweden’s desires to join NATO together. As Finnish foreign minister Pekka Haavisto insisted, "We have underlined to all our future NATO partners, including Hungary and Turkey, that Finnish and Swedish security go together," further emphasizing his distaste for Turkey’s contrasting views on the two countries’ memberships.
Turkey remains adamant in ensuring that allyship must be truly frictionless if occurring, as seen in its requests made to Sweden as terms for potential membership. The completion of this membership process will no-doubt be compelling, as recent events hint to the possibility of only one in the Nordic pair entering NATO, a result that would be shocking to many.