In News: Finland and Sweden have applied for membership of NATO.
- Finland and Sweden have formally applied for membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the US-led security alliance forged during the Cold War to defend its members from Soviet expansion.
- The war in Ukraine has already changed the geopolitics of Europe and the world.
- The admission of Finland and Sweden to NATO would bring about a transformation in the continent’s security map by giving NATO a contiguous long frontier in western Russia —Finland and Russia share a 1,300-km border — and doubling it from the present 1,200 km, parts of it in northern Norway, Latvia and Estonia, and Poland and Lithuania.
- In addition, Sweden’s island of Gotland in the middle of the Baltic Sea would give NATO a strategic advantage.
- Furthermore, when Sweden and Finland join NATO, the Baltic Sea — Russia’s gateway to the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean — would be ringed entirely by members of the western security alliance – Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Denmark and Sweden.
- In seeking NATO membership, Sweden and Finland have abandoned their long history of neutrality, when their foreign policy and security priority was to stay out of superpower rivalry during the Cold War, and maintain cordial ties with both blocs.
- At the moment the main obstacle to their applications is Turkey, a member since 1952 and which has NATO’s second largest army after the US.
- Turkey’s president has objected to their applications on the ground that the two countries had provided safe haven to the leaders of the Kurdish group PKK, an armed movement fighting for a separate Kurdistan, comprising Kurdish areas in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.
- Membership of NATO is open to all European nations that fulfil certain criteria that include “a functioning democratic political system based on a market economy; fair treatment of minority populations; a commitment to resolve conflicts peacefully; an ability and willingness to make a military contribution to NATO operations; and a commitment to democratic civil-military relations and institutions”.
- New members are admitted with the unanimous consent of all members.
What is NATO?
- North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a military alliance established by the North Atlantic Treaty (also called the Washington Treaty) of April, 1949, by the United States, Canada, and several Western European nations to provide collective security against the Soviet Union.
- There are currently 30 member states.
- Its original members were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
- Joining the original signatories were Greece and Turkey (1952), West Germany (1955, from 1990 as Germany), Spain (1982), the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland (1999), Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia (2004), Albania and Croatia (2009), Montenegro (2017), and North Macedonia (2020).
- Headquarters: Brussels, Belgium.
- Headquarters of Allied Command Operations: Mons, Belgium.
What are the Objectives of NATO?
- NATO’s essential and enduring purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of all its members by political and military means.
- Political objectives: NATO promotes democratic values and enables members to consult and cooperate on defense and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.
- Military Objectives: 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 defence 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.
- NATO has only once invoked Article 5, on September 12, 2001 following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in the US.
How does NATO Function?
- NATO has an integrated military command structure but very few forces or assets are exclusively its own.
- Most forces remain under full national command and control until member countries agree to undertake NATO-related tasks.
- All 30 allies have an equal say, the Alliance’s decisions must be unanimous and consensual, and its members must respect the basic values that underpin the Alliance, namely democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.
- NATO’s protection does not extend to members’ civil wars or internal coups.
- NATO is funded by its members. The U.S. contributes roughly three-fourths of NATO’s budget.
Previous Year Questions (PYQs)
Q.1) With reference to ‘Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)’, consider the following statements:
- It is an organization of the European Union in working relation with NATO and WHO.
- It monitors the chemical industry to prevent new weapons from emerging.
- It provides assistance and protection to States (Parties) against chemical weapons threats.
Select the correct code:
- 1 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3
Source: Indian Express