Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Estonia have reportedly fast-tracked the ratification process a day after the accession protocols were signed
Four more NATO members have joined Canada in officially ratifying the accession of Finland and Sweden to the US-led military alliance. On Wednesday, the leaders of Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Estonia all submitted their approvals for the two Nordic countries to join the bloc, just one day after the accession protocols were signed, according to Finland's state-owned YLE News.
On Tuesday, the prime ministers of Norway, Denmark and Iceland stated they were "ready to submit their ratification instruments to the Government of the United States of America," noting that it was a "signal of the unanimous Nordic support for the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO," and a testimony to the "deep mutual bonds and close relations between the Nordic countries."
"I welcome Finland and Sweden's membership in NATO and it is my firm belief that their solid commitment to human rights and rule of law, democratic tradition, and strong social commitment will be important for the alliance," wrote Icelandic Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir.
Meanwhile, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas announced on Twitter on Wednesday that the Riigikogu, Estonia's parliament, had ratified the two countries' accession to NATO with "lightning speed" and expressed hope that other allies would do so just as quickly.
The statements come after Tuesday's signing of the Protocols to the North Atlantic Treaty on the Accession of Finland and Sweden, where the ambassadors from all 30 NATO members signed the accession protocols at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels. Now, all member states must ratify the documents after which Sweden and Finland will become full-fledged members of the bloc.
Canada became the first country to formally ratify Finland and Sweden, which it did on Tuesday. It took Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mere hours after the protocols were signed to announce that his government had agreed to ratify them.
It is now up to the remaining 25 member countries to submit their ratifications. The remaining approvals may take significantly longer, however, perhaps even several months. While Germany, for example, is expected to ratify the documents on Friday, July 8, Turkey is still waiting for Finland and Sweden to follow through on a 10-point agreement they signed with Ankara last week.
Turkey has been demanding that the two Nordic countries address a number of concerns. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that he could still torpedo the countries' bids unless they responded to Ankara's extradition requests, removed arms embargoes and ceased support for groups that Turkey considers to be terrorist organizations.
As noted by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, both Finland and Sweden will still be able to participate in the alliance's work as "invitees" until all member states ratify the accession protocols.
However, it is only after the ratification process is complete that the two Nordic countries will be able to enjoy the protection of NATO's defense clause, which states that an attack on one member of the alliance is an attack against all.