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31 Mar, 2023 07:27

Nordic nation cleared to join NATO

Türkiye is the last country to ratify Finland’s membership application
Nordic nation cleared to join NATO

Türkiye’s parliament has unanimously approved Finland’s bid to join NATO, clearing the last hurdle for the Nordic nation to officially become a fully-fledged member of the US-led military bloc.

In a vote on Thursday, all 276 Turkish MPs present voted in favor of ratifying Finland’s application. Türkiye was the last of 30 existing members to endorse Helsinki’s bid, after Hungary formally supported its accession earlier this week.

Finland is set to formally join NATO at the bloc's summit in Lithuania in July.

Earlier this month, Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lifted his objections to Finland’s membership, saying it had taken “authentic and concrete steps” in fulfilling its promises, which included a crackdown on Kurdish groups Ankara deems “terrorist.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the ratification, adding that it would “make the whole NATO family stronger and safer.” Finnish President Sauli Niinisto also thanked the bloc’s members for their “trust and support.” 

“Finland is now ready to join NATO. We look forward to welcoming Sweden to join us as soon as possible,” he added.

While in recent weeks Türkiye had softened its stance on Finland joining the trans-Atlantic alliance, the same does not apply to Sweden. Ankara has accused Stockholm of harboring Kurdish “terrorists” and failing to make good on its promises.

Relations between Türkiye and Sweden were further complicated by a Koran-burning protest in Stockholm in January.

Sweden’s accession to the US-led bloc is also being held up by Hungary, with its officials pointing to “an ample amount of grievances that need to be addressed.” Earlier this month, Budapest blasted Stockholm for what it called spreading “lies” about the rule of law in the country.

Both Finland and Sweden ditched their decades-long neutrality stance and applied to join NATO last year, citing changes in the security environment after Russia started its military operation against Ukraine in February 2022.

Earlier this month, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said Moscow “regrets” that the two Nordic nations applied to join the bloc. Russia “does not pose any threat to these countries, since it does not have any disputes with them,” he said at the time.

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