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On Tuesday, Sweden and Finland came close to joining NATO as ambassadors from all 30 member countries signed accession protocols for the two Nordic states to join the alliance.

“This is truly a historic moment. For Finland, for Sweden, for NATO and for our shared security,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said of the alliance’s most significant expansion in decades.

Each country’s legislatures must now approve Sweden and Finland’s bids, a process that could take months.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, front row from left, pose with other leaders for a group photo during the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain on Wednesday, June 29, 2022.
(Photo AP / Bernat Armangue)

Canada was the first country outside the gates to ratify accession protocols, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling on allies to “move quickly to complete their ratification processes to limit opportunities for adversary interference” .

Sweden and Finland applied for membership in May, but their membership seemed to run into a hitch when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on countries to extradite members of a Kurdish rebel group Turkey considers terrorists.

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The three countries reached a joint deal last week, which Sweden and Finland promised to keep on Tuesday.

“We will fully respect the memorandum. Obviously there are no lists or anything like that in the memorandum, but what we will do is have better cooperation when it comes to terrorists,” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde told a news conference.

Turkish, Swedish and Finnish officials meet during a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain on June 28, 2022.

Turkish, Swedish and Finnish officials meet during a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain on June 28, 2022.
(REUTERS / Violeta Santos Moura / File photo)

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Erdogan warned after the signing of the agreement that the Turkish parliament would not approve the accession protocols unless the Nordic nations “fulfill their duties”.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February prompted historically neutral Sweden and Finland to apply for NATO membership. If approved, Russia’s border with NATO countries would more than double.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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