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- Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership last year.
- Sweden's NATO accession has been held up by objections from Turkey since last year.
- However, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan recently agreed to forward to parliament Sweden's bid to join the NATO Military Alliance.
- The North Atlantic Treaty Organization also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 31 member states – 29 European and two North American.
- Established in the aftermath of World War II, the organization implemented the North Atlantic Treaty, signed in Washington, D.C., on 4th April 1949.
- Its aim is to protect the security and freedom of all the countries that are members (the Allies).
- The organization’s original goal was to block Soviet expansion in Europe after World War Two.
- After the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991, many Eastern European countries joined NATO: Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
- Russia has strongly opposed Ukraine's request to become a member, fearing it would bring NATO forces too close to its own territory.
- However, Finland - which has a 1,340km land border with Russia - became a member in April 2023.
- NATO's main headquarters are located in Brussels, Belgium, while NATO's military headquarters are near Mons, Belgium.
- NATO is an active and leading contributor to peace and security on the international stage.
- It promotes democratic values and is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. However, if diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military capacity needed to undertake crisis-management operations, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organizations.
- Through its crisis-management operations, the Alliance demonstrates both its willingness to act as a positive force for change and its capacity to meet the security challenges of the 21st century.
- During the Cold War, NATO operated as a check on the threat posed by the Soviet Union.
- The alliance remained in place after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact and has been involved in military operations in the Balkans, the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa.
- Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty sets out how countries can join the Alliance.
- It states that membership is open to any "European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area".
- Any decision to invite a country to join the Alliance is taken by the North Atlantic Council, NATO's principal political decision-making body, on the basis of consensus among all Allies.
- NATO is comprised of two main parts, the political and military components.
- POLITICAL - NATO promotes democratic values and enables members to consult and cooperate on defence and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.
- MILITARY - NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military power to undertake crisis-management operations. These are carried out under the collective defense clause of NATO's founding treaty - Article 5 of the Washington Treaty or under a United Nations mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organisations.
Why does Sweden want to join NATO, and why has Turkey now agreed?
- Sweden and Finland both applied to join NATO in April 2022, two months after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, because they feared Russia was becoming increasingly aggressive.
- Turkey and Hungary initially refused to approve Sweden's membership.
- Turkey accused Sweden of hosting its enemies, including pro-Kurdish groups.
- However, NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg says that Sweden has now addressed "Turkey's legitimate security concerns", and that the Turkish government will soon ask its parliament to approve the country's application.
- He said Hungary's government has promised to do the same.
- However, it is not known when the two countries' parliaments will hold their votes, or when Sweden will officially become part of NATO.
- Together, Sweden and Finland will bolster NATO forces by more than 280,000 regular and reserve troops.
Why hasn't Ukraine joined NATO?
- NATO said in 2008 that Ukraine could join at a future date, but declined its September 2022 request for "fast-track" membership.
- Article 5 of NATO’s charter says that if one member is attacked, all others should come to its defense.
- Were Ukraine to join during the current Russian-Ukrainian conflict, NATO countries would technically have to declare war on Russia.
Q. Consider the following statements with respect to North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
1. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is an intergovernmental military alliance between 31 member states including European, North American, and South American countries.
2. NATO's main headquarters are located in Mons, Belgium.
3. Any decision to invite a country to join the Alliance is taken by the North Atlantic Council, NATO's principal political decision-making body, on the basis of consensus among all Allies.
4. Article 5 of NATO’s charter says that if one member is attacked, all others should come to its defense.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 3 and 4 only
(d) None of the above.
Correct Answer: (c) 3 and 4 only