Finland joins NATO: What country is and isn’t a member state including Ireland, Sweden & Turkey

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Finland has officially become a member state of NATO, almost a year after applying

Finland has officially become a member state of NATO, bringing an end to decades of military neutrality. With other Nordic bloc countries looking for admission, we’ve outlined the current state of play with NATO including who’s in, who’s out and who’s seeking approval.

Tuesday brought good news for Finland, who have been engaged in a drawn out application process since May 2022. However, nearby Sweden has been left out in the cold and is yet to be granted approval by a few key member states.

While Finland has typically maintained positive relationships with its surrounding NATO countries, their admission will have a huge impact on their defence strategy moving forward. Finland will now be covered by NATO’s collective defence policy, which means a duty of response from other member states if the country is attacked.

NATO’s approval is a strategic blow to Russia, which shares a 1,340km (832-mile) border with Finland. This means the alliance will now have doubled the size of its border with Putin’s nation.

Who are NATO’s founding members? 

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was founded after World War Two as part ofefforts to secure peace in Europe, help further cooperation between Europe and North America, and to combat the unpredictable threat of the Soviet Union at the time.

In 1949, 12 member states signed the treaty. The founding members were…

  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Denmark 
  • France 
  • Iceland 
  • Italy 
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • United Kingdom 
  • United States of America 

Who are the members of NATO now?

Currently, NATO has 31 member countries, here’s a list of the countries part of the NATO states map and when they joined the alliance…

Finnish, Nato and US flags during a Nato foreign ministers' meeting at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels. Picture: Johanna Geron/AFP via Getty ImagesFinnish, Nato and US flags during a Nato foreign ministers' meeting at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels. Picture: Johanna Geron/AFP via Getty Images
Finnish, Nato and US flags during a Nato foreign ministers' meeting at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels. Picture: Johanna Geron/AFP via Getty Images
  • Albania - 2009
  • Belgium - 1949
  • Bulgaria - 2004
  • Canada - 1949
  • Croatia - 2009
  • Czech Republic - 1999
  • Denmark - 1949
  • Estonia - 2004
  • Finland - 2023
  • France - 1949
  • Germany -1955
  • Greece - 1952
  • Iceland - 1949
  • Italy - 1949
  • Latvia - 2004
  • Lithuania - 2004
  • Luxembourg - 1949
  • Montenegro - 2017
  • Netherlands - 1949
  • North Macedonia - 2020
  • Norway - 1949
  • Poland - 1999
  • Portugal - 1949
  • Romania - 2004
  • Slovakia - 2004
  • Slovenia - 2004
  • Spain - 1982
  • Turkey - 1952
  • United Kingdom - 1949
  • United States  - 1949

European countries not in NATO

  • Andorra
  • Armenia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Cyprus
  • Georgia
  • Ireland
  • Kosovo
  • Liechtenstein
  • Malta
  • Moldova
  • Monaco
  • Russia
  • San Marino
  • Serbia
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Ukraine
  • Vatican City

Why is Ireland not in NATO?

Ireland has officially been militarily non-aligned and neutral since gaining independence in 1922. However, the country did join NATO’s Partnership for Peace programme and Euro Atlantic Partnership Council in 1999, with many suspecting it may lead to full membership in the future.

Turkey - which was the last of NATO’s members to accept Finland’s application - is currently blocking SwedenTurkey - which was the last of NATO’s members to accept Finland’s application - is currently blocking Sweden
Turkey - which was the last of NATO’s members to accept Finland’s application - is currently blocking Sweden | AFP via Getty Images

Ireland has never applied to NATO due to its long-standing policy on military non-alignment but with other neutral countries applying for membership, there could be a change of heart.

Why is Sweden not in NATO?

Sweden, much like Finland, pursued a policy of neutrality following the Cold War. Even before that, Sweden was the only country in the Nordic bloc to remain mostly neutral during WW2.

Now Sweden is a fully integrated country with the EU and part of NATO’s Partnership for Peace programme, the country decided to apply for full membership. However, it is still waiting for all countries to ratify their application.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (R) and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson (L) discuss Swedish NATO membership.NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (R) and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson (L) discuss Swedish NATO membership.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (R) and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson (L) discuss Swedish NATO membership. | AFP via Getty Images

Turkey - which was the last of NATO’s members to accept Finland’s application - is currently blocking Sweden. Hungary is also blocking Sweden’s approval due to political ‘grievances’, reports Reuters.

It is likely its membership will not be ratified unless an agreement is made between Sweden and Turkey regarding the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Turkey reportedly wants Stockholm to take a tougher line against members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) living in Sweden.

The PKK is labelled a terrorist group in Turkey, Sweden, the United States and Europe.

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