Turkey Ratifies Finland's NATO Membership, Clearing Last Major Hurdle for Nordic Nation's Accession
In a historic move, Turkey has become the last NATO member to ratify Finland's bid to join the military alliance. On Thursday, Turkish lawmakers unanimously backed Finland's accession after months of negotiations, clearing the last major hurdle for the Nordic country to join NATO. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had earlier blessed Finland's candidacy, paving the way for the final ratification by Turkey.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Turkey's ratification, calling it a significant step that will make the alliance "stronger and safer." Finland, which shares a border with Russia, is now just a few formalities away from becoming NATO's 31st member. Officials expect the process to be finalized as early as next week.
The move comes after Finland and Sweden abandoned their traditional position of military non-alignment and applied for NATO membership in May 2022, fearing they would be targeted next after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. However, Sweden's bid is still on hold due to Erdogan's demands to address certain security-related issues. Hungary approved Finland's bid last week, but the vote on Sweden has not yet been put on the parliamentary agenda. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's spokesman has called on Sweden to "clear the air" and address "an ample amount of grievances" for parliament to ratify its bid.
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom had previously said that his country would become a member by the time of the NATO summit in Vilnius in July. However, he recently altered his words, saying that he was now "hopeful" due to Budapest's recent remarks. The development is significant for both Finland and NATO as it will strengthen the alliance's position in the region and provide Finland with greater security against any potential Russian aggression.
DW, fb, lo/sri (AFP, dpa)