NATO foreign ministers will meet at NATO headquarters in Brussels today.
During the two-day summit, the ministers will discuss ongoing support for Ukraine, strengthened integration of the Western Balkans, Sweden’s accession to NATO membership and next year’s agenda. The foreign ministers will also for the first time meet in the newly-established NATO-Ukraine Council format. The EU foreign and security policy chief Josep Borrell and Sweden’s Defense Minister Pal Jonson will also join.
It was widely expected that Sweden would join NATO by today’s summit, but Stockholm will likely have to wait until next year to become the alliance’s 32nd member. Even though Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has recently agreed to lift his country’s veto on Sweden joining, Turkey’s parliament has delayed a crucial vote on the matter.
Still, Turkey is expected to formally ratify Sweden’s bid in the coming months. Stockholm has complied with Ankara’s demands by passing an anti-terrorism law and lifting arms export restrictions on Turkey. Sweden is thus likely to join well ahead of next year’s crucial NATO summit in July 2024, in Washington DC. While little will change for NATO, given that Sweden has been a close partner for many years, its accession means that, apart from Russia, the Baltic Sea will be bordered entirely by NATO allies.
Apart from Sweden’s bit to join, the foreign ministers will also present new measures to strengthen NATO’s defenses against Russia. They will likely also pledge further support to Ukraine, to reassure Kyiv in spite of growing war fatigue across Europe. NATO will likely also announce further defense cooperation with the EU, to which most NATO members also belong.
David is a Senior Analyst focusing on East Asia. He primarily writes on economic, political, and social issues and how they relate to the geopolitical environment.