Chamber of Deputies Approves NATO Accession of Finland and Sweden
The accession documents must be ratified by all 30 NATO member states. Credit: Freepik.
Prague, Aug 27 (CTK) – The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Czech parliament, comfortably approved the NATO accession of Finland and Sweden in the early hours of this morning.
The accession had already been approved by the Czech Senate. Now only President Milos Zeman’s signature is necessary to complete the Czech ratification. Zeman has backed both countries’ entry into the Alliance since the beginning, his spokesman said.
The two Nordic countries filed their request for NATO accession in early July due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, thus ending their long-standing neutrality.
The Chamber of Deputies supported Finland’s NATO membership with 134 votes of 152 members present, with four against; 135 out of the 151 MPs present voted for Sweden’s NATO entry, again with four against.
For Sweden and Finland to become NATO members, their accession documents must be ratified by all 30 NATO member countries.
Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky (Pirates) said the accession of Finland and Sweden would be clearly beneficial to NATO as well as the Czech Republic. “It is in the interest of the Czech Republic and its security to enlarge the North Atlantic Alliance by these two states,” he said.
Former Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar from the opposition ANO movement said the entry of Finland and Sweden into NATO would be a significant step for Czech security. “It means an unprecedented enlargement of NATO’s full strength,” he noted.
Most MPs from the far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) supported the consent to Sweden and Finland’s NATO accession protocols, though four of them voted against.
The accession protocols are international agreements of the presidential type in the Czech Republic. The two houses of parliament give their consent to the ratification, which rests in the subsequent signature of the documents by the president.
In July, representatives of 30 NATO member states signed the protocols on the accession of Finland and Sweden, thus taking a fundamental step towards their entry. All NATO countries must ratify the accession documents. So far, 23 of the 30 member states have done so. In other countries, such as the United States, only the president’s signature is needed. The slowest ratification processes are in Spain, Portugal, Slovakia, Greece, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
Turkey has made its ratification conditional on the meeting of its demands concerning the members of some Kurdish groups which Ankara labels terrorist. It wants Sweden and Finland to extradite 33 people, including members of alleged terrorist organizations, including the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, the organisations of Fethullah Gulen, a scholar whom Turkish authorities consider the orchestrator of the attempted coup in Turkey in 2016, and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), also on the list of terrorist groups in the USA and EU.
However, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said Sweden had so far extradited “common criminals” only. In late July, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed Stockholm for not having sufficiently participated in fighting terrorism.