Ottawa — Canada became the first country to approve the NATO accession request for Sweden and Finland, bringing them closer to full membership.
Justin Trudeau met with Finnish President Sauri Niiniste and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Anderson at the NATO summit last week, the Prime Minister's Office said.
In a statement, Trudeau states that Canada supports the Alliance's open-door policy for European countries in a position to "advance membership commitments and obligations."
The Finnish and Swedish ambassadors submitted an official application to NATO on May 18, and the Canadian Federal Cabinet issued an order in parliament on May 26 for foreign affairs. The Minister has approved ratification of the Membership Protocol. For both countries.
The House of Commons also voted unanimously this spring to support member bids.
All 30 NATO allies approved the Swedish and Finnish accession protocols on Tuesday and sent member bids to the allies for legislative approval.
Canada deliberately issued the Order in Council on May 26 to expedite the ratification process and complete it within hours instead of the usual month.
This move invaded neighboring Ukraine in February, and the subsequent military struggle further strengthened Russia's strategic isolation.
"This is a truly historic moment for Finland, Sweden and NATO," said Alliance Secretary-General Jens Stoltemberg.
Thirty ambassadors and permanent representatives NATO last week when the alliance made a historic decision to invite Russia's neighbor Finland and Scandinavian partner Sweden to a military club. Officially approved the summit decision.
Despite the agreement of the alliance, parliamentary approval in member states Turkey can pose a problem for being ultimately included as a member state.
Last week, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan fully responded to Turkey's request for both countries to hand over suspected terrorists with a link to an illegal Kurdish group or a network of exiled priests. In a failed 2016 coup in Turkey, Ankara warned that the process could still be blocked if it couldn't respond.
He said the Turkish parliament could refuse to ratify the agreement. This is a powerful threat, as NATO accession must be formally approved by all 30 member states, and each is given deterrence.
Stoltenberg said he did not expect any change in his mind. “There were security concerns that needed to be addressed, and we did what we always do at NATO. We found something in common.”
All allies have been addressed. There are various legislative challenges and procedures to be taken, and it can take a few more months for the two to become official members.
"We are looking forward to the rapid ratification process," said Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Habist.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine made the process even more urgent. It will involve both countries in the Western military alliance and further influence NATO, especially in the face of Moscow's military threat.
"As we face the biggest security crisis in decades, we get stronger and people get safer," Stoltenberg said.
Tuesday's approval has already pulled both countries deep into NATO. As intimate partners, they have already attended several meetings, including issues that immediately affect them. As official invitees, they can attend all meetings of the ambassador, even if they do not yet have the right to vote.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 5, 2022.
— Use files from the Associated Press