US Congress approves Sweden, Finland NATO membership

i24NEWS

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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg poses during a ceremony to mark Sweden's and Finland's application for membership in Brussels, on May 18, 2022.
JOHANNA GERON / POOL / AFPNATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg poses during a ceremony to mark Sweden's and Finland's application for membership in Brussels, on May 18, 2022.

Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Turkey must approve for entrance into NATO

The US Senate overwhelmingly approved the memberships of Sweden and Finland into the North American Treaty Alliance (NATO) on Wednesday.

Ninety-five senators out of 100 voted to approve the Nordic countries, with only Republican Josh Hawley of Missouri opposing. His stance is that the US must focus on China, which he deems its main global rival, and cannot afford to increase commitments in Europe.

"Today, the Senate overwhelmingly endorsed our close partners Finland and Sweden joining NATO," US President Joe Biden said in a statement. "This historic vote sends an important signal of the sustained, bipartisan US commitment to NATO, and to ensuring our Alliance is prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow."

The US Constitution requires a two-thirds majority in Senate for international treaties to be approved.

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 All new members of NATO must be approved by consensus. The Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Turkey are the only countries left to give their approval.

Out of those, Turkey is the only one signaling hesitation in allowing them into the alliance, demanding concessions from both countries over support for groups it claims are terrorist organizations. Finland and Sweden agreed to Turkish demands after a summit held last month in Spain.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Sweden and Finland against joining NATO as tensions with the alliance have soared since the invasion of Ukraine.

Despite decades remaining outside the alliance, Russia's war in Ukraine prompted Finland and Sweden to ask to join in May.

Finland shares a significant land border with Russia that will double the combined length of Russia's border with NATO countries.

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