Wednesday

28th Feb 2024

France and Italy ratify Nato expansion

  • Nato leaders meeting in Madrid in June (Photo: Nato)
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Lawmakers in France, Italy, and the US have voted to let Finland and Sweden join Nato.

Some 209 French MPs backed the motion in the National Assembly on Wednesday (3 August) while 46 voted against. The French senate approved the move in July.

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The Italian Senate, also on Wednesday, voted by 202 to 13 to go ahead, one day after the lower house approved the step by an equally impressive majority.

And the US Senate voted by 95 against one to admit the two Nordic countries into the Western alliance.

"This historic vote sends an important signal of the sustained, bipartisan US commitment to Nato," US president Joe Biden said on Wednesday.

"The qualifications of these two prosperous, democratic nations are outstanding and will serve to strengthen the Nato alliance," Bob Menendez, a Democratic party senator who chairs the foreign relations committee, added.

The debate in the Italian parliament on Tuesday also saw Italy's aspiring next leader, far-right politician Giorgia Meloni, welcome Nato expansion despite historical sympathies between the Italian far right and Moscow.

"In the face of Russian aggression against Ukraine, strengthening the European front of the alliance is an important step that can act as a deterrent to new Russian threats," she said.

Some two-thirds of 30 Nato allies have completed or all-but completed ratification of the Nordic bid already.

This does not include Turkey, which had earlier vetoed the move on grounds Sweden and Finland were sheltering Kurdish separatist militants and which is still threatening to freeze ratification unless Sweden extradites some 70 suspected "terrorists".

Hungary, the most Russia-friendly European country which has vetoed some EU sanctions on Russia, has also not yet ratified Nato expansion. But its prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has not threatened to block it, either.

Sweden and Finland broke with decades of neutrality in reaction to the Ukraine war.

They formally lodged their Nato applications on 18 May and remain on track to complete the fastest accession process in the alliance's history.

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