Turkey approves Finland’s application for NATO membership. Sweden is still waiting

The Turkish parliament has finally approved a bill that allows Finland to join NATO and paves the way for Helsinki to join the Western alliance.

Finland to join NATO and paves the way for Helsinki to join the Western defense alliance. Turkey’s parliament became the last of the 30 members of the Alliance to ratify Finland’s membership. Earlier this week, the Hungarian parliament approved a similar bill.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Finland was granted permission to join NATO by Turkey after demonstrating readiness and determination to fulfill promises to fight groups Ankara considers terrorists and to liberalize defense exports. Finland’s membership will be the first expansion of the Alliance since 2020, when North Macedonia joined.

After the Turkish parliament ratifies Finland’s membership in NATO, the decision must be approved by the president and then published in the country’s official gazette. Finland, for its part, has already completed the legal ratification procedure.

Once the ratification process is complete, both Turkey and Hungary must send their instruments of approval to the U.S. government in Washington, D.C., which is NATO’s depositary under the Alliance’s founding treaty. After that, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will formally invite Finland to join the Alliance. Finland will then transmit its instrument of accession, signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to the U.S. government. When it reaches the U.S. State Department, the country will officially become a member of the Alliance.

Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO last year in response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine (perhaps this decision was influenced by the fact that Finland shares a border with Russia, and Russia has a terrible habit of ignoring it). However, the process was delayed by Turkey and Hungary, and the acceptance of new countries into the Alliance requires the consent of the parliaments of all NATO members.

For example, Turkey has not yet ratified Sweden’s application for NATO membership because, according to Ankara, Sweden has not yet done enough to fight people whom Turkey considers terrorists. Representatives of the country have repeatedly said that Sweden should take additional measures against supporters of Kurdish militants and members of the network that Ankara considers responsible for the 2016 coup attempt. Negotiations between the two countries have not yet made significant progress.

Jens Stoltenberg said he has called on Turkey and Hungary to ratify both applications, but Hungary has not even scheduled a vote on Sweden’s application yet. This does not prevent the United States and other Allies from hoping that both Finland and Sweden will join them at the NATO summit in Vilnius on July 11.

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