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Sweden is 'entering a new era' in joining NATO says Granit
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The Nordics’ formal request to become part of the North Atlantic Alliance, the world’s most powerful military coalition, has called into question whether membership for Ukraine could still be on the cards. According to Wolfgang Ischinge, a veteran German diplomat and chairman of the annual Munich Security Conference, it should be.
He said: “After what the Russians have now done, one would have to say – now more than ever will we get Ukraine into NATO.”
Speaking on Germany’s political TV show Maischberger, he argued that security guarantees are not very credible without NATO membership.
The Munich Security Conference is one of the world’s most renowned meetings on foreign and security policy.
Mr Ischinge, who chaired it from 2008 to 2022, said: “After all these horrible events, who is supposed to give this country the security guarantees it needs if peace is ever made?”
Nearly three months into a war that has killed thousands, devastated cities and towns and sparked an exodus of nearly six million Ukrainians, the former ambassador to the United States is sceptical about a quick end to the fighting.
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Commenting on Russia’s struggles to take meaningful territory in Ukraine, he said this is now a “war of position”, a “war of attrition” – and that it could last a long time.
Thus, he stressed, “the goal must now be to continue to prevent the implementation of Russian goals and to help Ukraine successfully defend its borders and its existence”.
About Finland and Sweden’s expected NATO membership, which is set to redraw the geopolitical map of northern Europe, Mr Ischinge said: “No Russian need fear that NATO will march across the Finnish border.”
After all, he clarified, it is a defensive alliance.
The expansion of the 73-year-old organisation lies at the heart of Moscow’s motivation for invading Ukraine.
Its attacks, though, have anything but stopped the group from continuing to defend its mission – to encourage political integration on the continent.
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Finland and Sweden, which are historically neutral, need the approval of all of NATO’s 30 members in order to join.
So far, Turkey has been the only one to express reservations.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the two Nordic countries should not bother sending delegations to convince Ankara of their bids.
Mr Erdogan is angered by what he views as their willingness to host Kurdish militants.
At a news conference on Monday, he said: “Neither of these countries have a clear, open attitude towards terrorist organisation. How can we trust them?”
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The Turkish president’s comments were primarily directed at the militant group the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which Ankara regards as a terrorist organisation.
Sweden has a large Kurdish diaspora, with the community considered to be one of the largest outside of the Middle East.
In Finland, the Kurdish-speaking population was estimated at just over 15,000 people as of 2020 – less than one percent of the population.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Nordics’ move did not threaten Moscow directly, though warned any expansion of military infrastructure would trigger a response from the Kremlin.
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said after receiving Finland and Sweden’s application letters: “This is a historic moment, which we must seize.
“I warmly welcome the requests by Finland and Sweden to join NATO.
“You are our closest partners and your membership in NATO will increase our shared security.”
The whole membership process generally takes from eight to 12 months.
However, because of the threat from Russia, this process could be completed in as fast as two months.
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg
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