The Riigikogu could ratify Finland and Sweden's application to join NATO as early as next week, Riigikogu speaker Jüri Ratas (Center) says.
While the Riigikogu is on its summer recess until September, sessions can be called on an extraordinary basis during that time; Ratas said the first of these in respect of ratifying Finnish and Swedish NATO membership will be held on Wednesday, July 6, while a second session could be held same day.
He said: "Two sessions can be held in one day, and I think that's the way it should be done, the first extraordinary session and then, when it's over, the second extraordinary session. I think it would be the most reasonable to process it this way."
Ratas said that there is general consensus in parliament on defense and security matters and there are no concerns of opposition to the two countries joining the alliance, which they applied to do on the same day, May 18.
All 30 current member states must unanimously ratify Finland and Sweden's applications; there is more than one way in which this can be accomplished depending on the member state; each state has its own procedure involving legislative or executive levels, or both.
Chair of the Riigikogu's foreign affairs committee, Marko Mihkelson (Reform) said that ratification for both countries by all 30 member states could potentially be completed by the end of the year.
He said: "Belgium has historically taken the longest, simply because they have so many different legislative levels in the country, that it takes longer, purely on a physical basis.
"However, you have to bear in mind that there will be elections in many countries, it is a parliamentary practice which perhaps does not require an extraordinary meeting be held in the summer. /.../ It would even be good to set a pace whereby we could get all the ratifications done by the end of the year," said Mihkelson.
Three countries – Canada, Iceland and Norway – have already ratified Finnish and Swedish membership, Laanet said; these countries' procedures allow for doing so before the official signing of the accession protocols.
Once the government has prepared the corresponding drafts, the Riigikogu can also give its approval, he said, noting that the foreign affairs committee had already set up a cross-party agreement which allowed for an expedited procedure which could be done in two sessions in one day.
Once the last member state to ratify has done so, accession protocols are deposited in Washington, and the two countries will have become full NATO member states.
After initially opposing membership, Turkey agreed to both countries joining, as announced by President Erdogan while in Madrid. At the same time, Erdogan said that this was contingent on both countries carrying through legislation which would combat terrorist groups which he says operate from both countries.
Editor: Andrew Whyte