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How can Finland and Sweden join NATO?

How can Finland and Sweden join NATO?

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson announced today that Sweden will apply to join NATO. Yesterday Finland announced the same thing.

NATO membership would mean a monumental change of attitude for Sweden, as the country has been militarily neutral for 200 years.

In some ways, it would not change much. Sweden and Finland became official NATO partners in 1994 and have since become major contributors to the alliance.

They have participated in several missions since the end of the Cold War.

But a big change would be the implementation of NATO "Article 5", which sees an attack on one member state as an attack on everyone.

For the first time, Sweden and Finland - which confirmed on Sunday that they would formally apply for membership - would have security guarantees from nuclear states.

How can Finland and Sweden join NATO?

It may take a year to apply and become a member of NATO and all member countries must agree for a new country to join.

To join NATO, candidate countries must meet certain conditions, such as treating minorities fairly and committing to resolving conflicts peacefully. They should also provide military support to the alliance.

NATO members agree to spend 2% of their GDP on defense. Finland already meets this target and Sweden says it will do so "as soon as possible".