Turkiye ratifies Finland’s membership in NATO
Ankara, Turkiye –
The Turkiye parliament on Thursday ratified Finland’s application for NATO membership, removing the final hurdle to Finland’s long-delayed entry into the Western Military Alliance.
Days after the Hungarian parliament approved Helsinki’s accession, all 276 parliamentarians present voted in favor of Finland’s proposal.
“This will make the entire NATO family stronger and more secure,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter, welcoming Turkiye’s actions.
Frustrated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago, Finland and Sweden abandoned their decades-long policy of non-alignment and applied to join the alliance.
Full unanimity was required to admit new members to the 30-nation alliance, and the last two NATO members to ratify Finland’s membership were Turkiye and Hungary.
Meanwhile, Sweden’s attempt to join the alliance remains on hold, with both Turkiye and Hungary refraining from giving the alliance the green light despite expressing support for NATO expansion.
The Turkiye government has accused Sweden of being too lenient towards terrorist groups and groups perceived as security threats, including extremist Kurdish groups and those involved in the 2016 coup attempt.
Most recently, Turkiye was angered by a series of demonstrations in Sweden, including a protest by anti-Muslim activists who burned the Koran outside the Turkish embassy.
The Hungarian government says some Swedish politicians have made derisive remarks about the state of Hungary’s democracy, leading to the freezing of billions of dollars in European Union funds over alleged violations of the rule of law and democracy. It claims to have played an active role in ensuring that
Turkish officials say Finland, unlike Sweden, has fulfilled its obligations under a memorandum of understanding signed last year, and the two countries have committed to address security concerns in Turkiye.
Akif Kagatai Kirich, a member of parliament for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party, told parliament before the vote, “As a NATO member, we naturally have expectations and demands regarding our security concerns. “I would like to support the decisions we are taking here and highlight the concrete measures taken by Finland and their implementation.”
Kirich added: “We know there are a lot of people watching us from Finland….we can say to them, ‘Welcome to NATO.'”
Some opposition parties were critical of the Turkish government’s position on the two Nordic countries.
“Unfortunately,[the ruling party in Erdogan’s government]has turned the right to reject Finnish and Swedish membership applications into a tool of intimidation and intimidation. We do not approve of it. We are Kurdish dissidents.” I believe the negotiation process[to demand the extradition of writers, politicians and journalists]is ugly, wrong and illegal.”
Earlier this week, Erdogan told reporters when asked about Sweden’s NATO membership.
Sweden, which has amended its constitution to pass tougher anti-terrorism laws, has expressed hope it will be able to participate ahead of July’s NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Hamish Kinnear, a Middle East and North Africa analyst at risk intelligence firm Verisk Maplecroft, commented by email.
“Turkey is unlikely to approve membership of the alliance before the May elections. You don’t want to risk offending the base,” Kinnear said.
Maia Cross, professor of political science at Northeastern University, said Finland’s membership, which has a 1,340-kilometer (832-mile) border with Russia, is of geographical and political importance to NATO.
“Finland is in a very important strategic position, and making such a transition from neutrality in response to Russian aggression would strengthen the demonstration of NATO’s political will.
Cross added that the delay gave Finland more opportunity to prepare.
“Finland is already in meetings with NATO. It is already transforming its military,” she said. “So once we formally join NATO, we can really get going.”