Finland cleared the last significant hurdle in its bid to join Nato after Turkey’s parliament approved the Nordic country’s accession to the Western military alliance.
The General Assembly, a coalition led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the ruling Justice and Development Party, voted just before midnight on Thursday to ratify the move, making Turkey the last of 30 NATO countries to withdraw Finland’s membership. Sweden’s neighbors are still waiting for Turkey and Hungary to approve their bid.
The recent escalation comes as relations between Russia and the West have reached their peak in decades following President Vladimir Putin’s all-out war in Ukraine.
Finland shares a 1,340km border with Russia, which would give the region a more prominent Western alliance, and Helsinki with the added security of belonging to a club that counts the US and Europe’s leading military powers as members.
Several procedural steps are still needed before Finland can become the 31st member of Nato, but officials in the city of Helsinki expect them to be completed early next month.
“Finland is now ready to join Nat. We look forward to welcoming Sweden as soon as possible,” said Sauli Niinistö, the president of Finland.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin added: “With partners, we will give and receive security. We will defend each other. Finland stands with Sweden now and in the future and supports its application.”
Born in Sweden, he already has orders for Finland on the side of his schedule.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, Hon Welcome to Twitter Joining the vote of Turkey in favor of Finland. “This will make the entire Nato family stronger & safer,” he wrote.
Sweden’s accession to NATO is far more uncertain. Erdoğan, who is in the midst of a treacherous presidential campaign, is being endorsed by NATO allies as a growing member, Sweden. Many Western leaders believe their plan will be delayed until a joint summit in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, in July.
Ankara has lobbied Sweden to hand over dozens of people it says are terrorists in exchange for its support. But Sweden argues that it can no longer meet Turkey’s demands. Stockholm has already signaled a change to its anti-terrorist legislation, which will come into force at the beginning of June. The Nordic official said the concession “offers an opportunity for Erdoğan to claim victory, if he wants.”
Hungary, which last week ordered to approve Finland’s accession, has so far also refused to accept Sweden’s bid to join Nato, in what diplomats see as an attempt to make concessions in Budapest’s fight to unlock European funds.
Washington and European capitals had hoped to get Finland and Sweden to join Nato together, but Ankara and Budapest are now pushing to reverse Stockholm’s push amid growing regional security concerns. Tensions continued on Thursday as Russia made its first arrest of a foreign journalist since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking at a press conference in London on Wednesday, Pål Jonson, Sweden’s defense minister, said he was “happy to have Finland join NATO” and confirmed that Stockholm’s relationship with NATO was stronger than ever – even if it didn’t join soon. with Finland and other Nordic countries it would make defense planning more difficult.
Jonson added that he respected the decisions of the leaders of Turkey and Hungary, and had no “indication” that the two countries would act together.
Speaking at the same event from the UK’s Ministry of Defence, Ben Wallace, the British defense secretary, said that it would be best for Ankara to approve Sweden’s approach in time for the July NATO summit, two months after Turkey’s general election, which had put “space in”. process”.
“In my discussions . . . with both my Turkish defense and other leaders in the Turkish security apparatus [and] a weapon of terrorism,” he said.
Waleys added: “Whether it’s this week, this month, or next year, I think Sweden will be at Nato.”