Canada is the first of the alliance’s 30 members to officially approve the membership of Sweden and Finland
Canadian lawmakers have voted to ratify NATO membership for Stockholm and Helsinki, after the US-led military collective met in Brussels to sign the two Nordic countries’ membership protocols .
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision on Tuesday, saying Canada’s House of Commons has taken up the matter. “as fast as possible” and voted unanimously for the two to join the alliance.
“Today, Canada became the first country to ratify Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO accession protocols. This brings both countries closer to full membership,” said the Prime Minister, adding that Ottawa had “full confidence” that the two nations “integrate quickly and effectively into NATO and contribute to the collective defense of the alliance.
Trudeau’s comments come after NATO leaders met in Belgium earlier in the day to sign the protocols, which must be ratified by the parliaments of each member state. Although Canada pushed through the ratification in hours, the process could take several months, as lawmakers in dozens of countries will now have to reach an agreement on the issue.
In applying to join NATO earlier this year, Finland and Sweden broke with longstanding traditions of neutrality, citing security concerns after Russia sent troops to Ukraine in February. While most members immediately welcomed them into the alliance, their offers were suspended by Turkey, which accused them of both harboring Kurdish militants and promoting “terrorism.”
Despite several warnings from Ankara, however, Turkey ended its objections last week after the two Nordic countries signed a 10-point agreement under which they promised to respond to terrorism allegations and remove controls export on Turkish products, among others. The deal appears to have resolved the impasse, although Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned he could stall the process again if his country’s demands are not met.