STORY: With the signing of this document in Madrid, Turkey is giving a green light for Finland and Sweden to join NATO.
The chief of the nuclear-armed alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, heralded the deal, which came just ahead of a NATO summit.
“I’m pleased to announce we have an agreement that paves way for Sweden and Finland to join NATO.”
The move tees up what could be the biggest shift in European security in decades.
The two long neutral Nordic countries now want the alliance’s protection in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation.”
The agreement prevents a potentially embarrassing impasse and allows NATO leaders to save face as they aim to show resolve against Russia.
Turkey's main demands were for the Nordic countries to stop supporting Kurdish militant groups on their territory.
And to lift their bans on some sales of arms.
“As NATO allies Finland and Sweden commit to fully support Turkey against threats to national security. This includes amending domestic legislation, cracking down on PKK activities and entering an agreement with Turkey on extradition.”
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto described accession as 'imminent'.
"That was a very necessary agreement." (white flash) "Even though we had to compromise, I would say we will follow, also, from now on, Finnish legislation. We do not have any need to make changes because of this agreement."
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson touted the development as “fantastic news.”
Earlier, U.S. President Joe Biden had said it was crucial to have a united NATO.
“And today NATO is united and as united and galvanized as I believe it's ever been and we are ready to face threats of Russian aggression because quite frankly there's no choice.”
Still, it’s not a done deal for Sweden and Finland just yet.
NATO’s chief said the alliance's leaders would officially invite the countries to join soon.
But the member country parliaments also need to ratify the decision and that could take up to a year.