NATO allies: How long will it take for Finland to join NATO?

Finland and Sweden joining NATO a 'good thing' says Jardine

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On Thursday, Finnish president Sauli Niinisto made a joint statement on NATO with the country’s prime minister, Sanna Marin. The duo put in motion the first steps to joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), with the wider government expected to formally announce its decision on Sunday. Russia has hit back at the development and said it would “definitely” be judged as a direct threat against the Kremlin.

How long will it take for Finland to join NATO?

If Finland’s Government chooses to move towards NATO membership there will be a clear majority in its Parliament to begin the application process.

Opinions are split on how long it would take, though NATO officials said the joining process for Finland could be completed “in a couple of weeks,” as reported by the Associated Press.

As straight forward a candidate as Finland might be to process, it’s likely the timescale will be longer and possibly last several months.

Once Finland’s Parliament has announced its support for NATO membership, the alliance is expected to issue a formal invitation for Finland to join.

The invitation should come at the end of June, when NATO leaders will meet in Madrid.

There are then five steps to the accession process. The first of these will see NATO experts and representatives of the individual countries meet in Brussels.

Here, they will ensure Finland is willing and able to meet the political, legal and military obligations and commitments of NATO membership.

Finland is unlikely to have to implement any reform to meet NATO standards and requirements, which will save the application procedure some time.

Then, officials in Helsinki will send a formal letter of intent to NATO’s Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, saying it accepts its obligations to the alliance.

During the third step, NATO will prepare accession protocols to the Washington Treaty – NATO’s founding document – for Finland to join, which effectively amends the treaty to recognise the joining of new members.

Fourth, NATO member states’ Governments need to unanimously ratify the protocols, according to their own national legislation.

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And then finally, once all members’ Governments have approved Finland’s accession, the US Government will be notified as the depository of the Washington Treaty.

The NATO Secretary-General then invites the new countries to join the alliance.

Finland’s decision has angered officials in Moscow with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warning of “symmetrical responses”.

He said: “NATO expansion does not make our continent more stable and secure.

“Everything [further action by Russia] will depend on how this process of expansion will look like in the future, how far the military infrastructure will move, how much closer to our borders.”

Russia’s foreign ministry said NATO’s aim was to expand towards its borders and advised it would have to take “retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature”.

Finland has a long history of wartime neutrality and to this point has refused to join any military alliances.

But the country’s President has said the time has now come for Helsinki to alter its foreign policy and help “strengthen Finland’s security”.

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