Sweden's foreign minister signs official NATO membership application
Sweden's foreign minister Ann Linde has officially signed her country's' application to join NATO, following Monday's announcement that accession would be going ahead.
Linde said Monday that: "It feels momentous, fateful, and that we have ended up doing what I believe is best for Sweden," English-language news site The Local reports.
The news comes two days after Finland's President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin officially declared the country's intention to also join the alliance.
Both countries will submit their official applications to NATO headquarters in Brussels later this week, The Local reports, ending decades of official neutrality on the part of both countries.
Just signed a historic indication letter to #NATO Secretary General @jensstoltenberg from the Swedish Government . Our NATO application is now formally signed. pic.twitter.com/1RAxjikjc0— Ann Linde (@AnnLinde) May 17, 2022
Foreign minister Linde was unable to put an exact time-frame on joining, but told CNN the entire process could take up to a year, ERR reports.
President Niinistö is also in Sweden Tuesday, and will meet with King Carl XVI Gustaf.
All 30 current NATO member states must accept the application from Finland and Sweden, via various domestic processes such as a vote by a legislature or a decision by the executive, depending on the country in question.
The applicant states must also vote on the ensuing protocol before officially being admitted.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine starting February 24 has been followed by intense speculation and debate in and about both countries, on their prospective membership of the alliance.
Prior to the war, Finnish public opinion was running around 50-50 on whether to join NATO or not; this rose to around three-quarters in favor, after the invasion.
Finland, once ruled by Sweden and subsequently a part of the Russian Empire until its independence in 1917, followed a policy of neutrality throughout the Cold War. Sweden is famed for having remained neutral since the Napoleonic Wars, over 200 years ago.
The newest NATO member state until now is North Macedonia, which joined in 2020, while Bosnia-Herzegovina is also going through the membership application process.
Estonia joined in 2004, along with Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Estonia's leaders heralded the announcement that Sweden would be joining as being "good for the region".
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Editor: Andrew Whyte