Finnish President Sauli Niinistö formally approved the Nordic country’s historic bid to join Nato today by signing into law the required national legal amendments needed for membership in the Western military alliance.
The move means the country has now completed the national measures needed to join Nato and is now just awaiting approval from Turkey and Hungary, the only two of the alliance’s 30 existing members that have not ratified its bid.
Finland’s 200-seat Eduskunta legislature endorsed the country’s Nato bid with an overwhelming 184-7 majority on March 1, following in the footsteps of Sweden who signed off on their own Nato membership bill in parliament earlier this week.
Sweden and Finland, which are close partners culturally, economically and politically, submitted their bids together and planned to enter the alliance at the same time.
The latter shares an 832 mile land border with Russia- the largest of any European country- and their application is seen as one of the biggest geopolitical ramifications of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Admitting new countries requires unanimous approval from the alliance members and the parliaments in Ankara and Budapest have not yet given the green light.
Last week, Mr Niinisto visited Ankara, where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to move forward with ratifying Finland’s application.
That is expected before Turkey holds presidential and parliamentary elections, scheduled for May 14.
Sweden’s accession, however, has stalled due to opposition from Turkey, and Erdogan said last week his country wouldn’t ratify it before disputes between Ankara and Stockholm are solved. It isn’t clear either when Budapest will ratify Stockholm’s bid.
During a meeting with Mr Niinisto, Erdogan heaped scorn on the Swedish government and claimed they had embraced Kurdish militants, whom he labelled as ’terrorists’.
He also complained that Kurdish militant demonstrations had been allowed on the streets of Stockholm.
However, the Finnish president told Mr Erdogan that the process would ‘not be complete without Sweden,’ and urged the Turkish leader to break the deadlock.
‘When it comes to fulfilling its pledges in the trilateral memorandum of understanding, we have seen that Finland has taken authentic and concrete steps,’ Erdogan told reporters, referring to an agreement signed by Helsinki, Stockholm and Ankara in June which would pave the way for the two Nordic countries to enter the military alliance.
‘This sensitivity for our country’s security and, based on the progress that has been made in the protocol for Finland’s accession to NATO, we have decided to initiate the ratification process in our parliament,’ he added.
Similarly, Hungary’s legislature announced on the same day that it would vote on ratification of Finland’s accession on March 27, but not Sweden’s.
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