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The full list of members of the alliance, and if Sweden and Ukraine are joining

Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will agree to support Sweden’s bid to join Nato despite his previous opposition.

The change of heart was announced on Monday ahead of the alliance’s summit, which is being held in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Nato secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, told a briefing that the Turkish leader has agreed to send Sweden’s Nato accession protocol to the Turkish Parliament “as soon as possible” after talks with Mr Erdogan and Swedish prime minister, Ulf Kristersson.

“This is an historic day because we have a clear commitment by Turkey to submit the ratification documents to the Grand National Assembly, and to work also with the assembly to ensure ratification,” he said – though he warned a “clear date” could not be given for when Sweden will join.

Sweden will follow its Scandinavian neighbours, Finland, in joining Nato – Finland became a full member back in April. Ukraine is also pushing to join the alliance, though it is unlikely to happen while the war with Russia continues.

What is Nato?

Nato stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and is also known as the North Atlantic Alliance.

Its stated purpose is to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means.

Nato was founded in April 1949 in Washington DC, USA. Its headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium.

Politically, it aims to “promote democratic values, and enables members to consult and co-operate on defence and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict”.

Regarding military action, Nato says it is “committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes”.

If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military power to undertake crisis-management operations.

It uses a system of collective security, whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party. It may also ally with external forces.

Which countries are in Nato?

There are now 31 countries in Nato; 28 in Europe, two in North America and one in Eurasia.

Here is the full list, along with the year they joined:

  • 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)
  • Hungary (1999)
  • 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)

Nato says its membership is open to “any other European state in a position to further the principles” of its treaty and to “contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area”.

Nato map
A map of Europe’s Nato members – the US and Canada are also part of the alliance (Map: Nato)

Why is Sweden joining Nato?

Sweden had applied last May to join the collective defence pact, ending a decades-long stance of neutrality following the invasion of Ukraine.

Finland applied to join at the same time, but while Finland’s application was signed off by all 30 member states, Turkey held off on giving its consent for Sweden’s admission. Nato members must unanimously approve new members.

In withholding consent, Mr Erdogan had cited concerns over Sweden’s historic embrace of Kurdish groups that Turkey considers terrorists, while Turkish officials have also voiced anger at far-right Qu’ran burnings in Sweden.

The Turkish President had continued to voice objections as recently as Monday morning, claiming that his country’s long-standing application to join the European Union must be progressed before he would sign off on Sweden’s entry.

“Turkey has been waiting at the door of the European Union for over 50 years now, and almost all of the Nato member countries are now members of the European Union,” he told reporters in Istanbul. “I am making this call to these countries that have kept Turkey waiting at the gates of the European Union for more than 50 years.”

It is thought Sweden has agreed to help unblock Turkey’s progress towards joining the EU. “What Sweden agreed today as an EU member was to support actively the efforts to reinvigorate Turkey’s EU accession process,” Mr Erdogan added.

Will Ukraine join Nato?

Ukraine is pushing to join Nato as quickly as possible, but some EU countries are cautious about the move, which they fear could draw the alliance closer into war with Russia.

Fears around Nato’s enlargement was one of the key reasons behind Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, as he sees the alliance as a threat to Russia’s borders.

Ukraine has had a partnership membership with Nato since 1992, which means it can be provided with assistance with national security, but it is not officially a member state.

In 2017, Ukraine adopted a constitutional amendment that committed the country to Nato membership, spurred by Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, made a fresh plea for membership last Friday. “We are talking about a clear signal, some concrete things in the direction of an invitation,” he said. “We need this motivation. We need honesty in our relations.”

On Sunday, US President Joe Biden told CNN that he did not believe Ukraine was “ready” for Nato membership. “Nato is a process that takes some time to meet all the qualifications – from democratisation to a whole range of other issues,” he said, adding that Nato needed to “lay out a rational path” for membership.

The US has also said that it would be unlikely to draw support from the public, who would not want to become involved in a war in Europe.

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