Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs Anne Linde give a press conference after the signing of the accession protocols of Finland and Sweden at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on July 5, 2022. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

International news

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's (NATO) 30 allies signed accession protocols for Sweden and Finland on Tuesday, kickstarting the process to admit the two Nordic countries into the alliance.

Foreign Minister of Finland Pekka Haavisto and Foreign Minister of Sweden Ann Linde attended the signing ceremony, Xinhua reported.

"With 32 nations around the table, we will be even stronger and our people will be even safer, as we face the biggest security crisis in decades," declared NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in a press conference after the signing ceremony.

As per the reports by Xinhua, NATO's 30 members formally invited Finland and Sweden to join their alliance at the NATO Summit held last week in Madrid, Spain, just seven weeks after both countries handed their applications in response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

In the first instance, the accession process was blocked by Turkey, a NATO member that raised concerns over the fight against terrorism, however, after signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Finland and Sweden, Turkey lifted its veto ahead of the NATO Madrid summit.

The next step is for the parliaments of all 30 NATO members to ratify Sweden and Finland's accession to NATO, according to their own national procedures. The last accession was ratified within a year, said Stoltenberg, but since Sweden's and Finland's accession process has been sped up since the beginning, this could go faster.

The NATO summit began in Madrid on June 28 allowing the western military alliance to show a joint front against Moscow, and start the process of Finland and Sweden's inclusion in the alliance.

This summit comes as Turkey lifted its veto over Finland and Sweden's bid to join NATO, ending a dispute that tested the unity of the alliance.

The deal signalled a significant shift in security dynamics in Europe as the Nordic countries abandon their decades-long neutrality to enter the military alliance.

The NATO summit in Madrid has become one of the most consequential meetings in the history of the military alliance.

Source: ANI