The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has formally extended an invitation to Finland and Sweden to join the alliance after weeks of negotiations, expanding its membership to 32 countries. 

“Today, we have decided to invite Finland and Sweden to become members of NATO, and agreed to sign the Accession Protocols,” the NATO Heads of State and Government participating in the Madrid Summit wrote in a declaration issued Wednesday

“In any accession to the Alliance, it is of vital importance that the legitimate security concerns of all Allies are properly addressed,” it added, praising the recent agreement made between Turkey, Finland and Sweden the day before. 

“The accession of Finland and Sweden will make them safer, NATO stronger, and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure. The security of Finland and Sweden is of direct importance to the Alliance, including during the accession process.”

After weeks of stalling their candidacies, Turkey lifted their objections on Tuesday to the Nordic nations entering the alliance, saying the country “got what it wanted” including “full cooperation … in the fight against” the Kurdish rebels.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Finland's President Sauli Niinisto, Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde and Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto react during a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, June 28, 2022.
NATO has formally extended an invitation to Finland and Sweden to join the alliance.
REUTERS/Violeta Santos Moura/File Photo

Previously, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused Finland and Sweden of taking a lax stance against “terrorists,” referring to the rebels. 

In order to join NATO, all 30 current members must provide unanimous support.

As part of the three nation’s agreement, Finland and Sweden said they would crack down on groups deemed to be a national security threat and will not “impose embargo restrictions in the field of defense industry” and will take “concrete steps on the extradition of terrorist criminals.”

President Joe Biden (C), Swedens Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson (R) and  Finlands President Sauli Niinistö arrive to speak in the Rose Garden following a meeting at the White House in Washington, DC, on May 19, 2022.
President Biden, Sweden Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finland President Sauli Niinistö walk to the Rose Garden at the White House on May 19, 2022.
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Turkey has also demanded Finland and Sweden extradite wanted individuals and lift arms restrictions imposed after Turkey’s 2019 military incursion into northeast Syria.

In return, Turkey vowed to support their candidacies to join the Alliance. 

Finland and Sweden first applied for membership in May amid Russia’s months-long invasion of Ukraine. 

US President Joe Biden touted the invitation on Wednesday saying “This is going to make us stronger and more secure and NATO stronger. We’re sending an unmistakable message…that NATO is strong united.”

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