BRUSSELS -- On Tuesday, the NATO allies approved the accession protocols to Sweden and Finland. This sent the member bids of the two countries to the alliance capitals for legislative approvals. There could also be political trouble in Turkey.
This move is further evidence of Russia's strategic isolation following its February invasion of Ukraine and subsequent military conflicts there.
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, head of NATO, stated that "This is truly an historic moment for Finland and Sweden, as well as NATO."
The decision was officially approved by the 30 permanent and ambassador representatives.
Even though Sweden, Finland, and Turkey have reached a memorandum at the Madrid summit, it could be difficult to get parliamentary approval.
Recep Tayyip Erdan, the Turkish president, warned Ankara that Ankara could block this process if Turkey doesn't grant Turkey its demands for extradition of terror suspects. People wanted in Turkey are linked to Kurdish outlawed groups or the network of exiled clerics accused of a failed coup in Turkey in 2016.
He stated that Turkey's Parliament might refuse to ratify this deal. This is a serious threat, as NATO accession must be officially approved by all the 30 member countries. Each state has a blocking right.
Stoltenberg stated that he did not expect any change in his mind. "There were security issues that had to be addressed. We did as we do every day at NATO. He said, "We found common ground."
This process has been made more urgent by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It will include the two countries in the Western military alliance, and NATO will have more power in the face Moscow's military threat.
The foreign ministers from Finland and Sweden were asked at a news conference whether the memorandum listed people who would need to be extradited back to Turkey. Both ministers denied that such a list was included in the agreement.
"We will fully honor the memorandum. Ann Linde, Swedish Foreign Minister, stated that although there are no lists or similar in the memorandum it is not possible to have better cooperation with terrorists.
Pekka Haavisto, Finnish Foreign Minister, was also adamant.
"All that was agreed upon in Madrid is in the document. Haavisto stated that there are no hidden documents or agreements behind this document.
Each member nation of the alliance has its own legislative issues and procedures. It could take many more months before the Nordic countries can become official NATO members.
According to the Free Democrats (a partner party in Germany's coalition government), Germany's parliament will ratify the membership bids on Friday. Other parliaments may not be able to approve the membership bids until after lengthy summer breaks.
Haavisto stated, "I look forward a rapid ratification process."
The protocols approved Tuesday will bring the two nations closer to NATO. They were close partners and have attended meetings on issues that directly affected them. They can attend any meeting of the ambassadors as official invitees, even though they don't yet have voting rights.
Geir Moulson contributed to this article from Berlin