Turkey Ratifies Finland’s NATO Membership, US Welcomes Decision
In a landmark decision, Turkey has decided to ratify Finland’s NATO membership, removing the biggest remaining hurdle to the country’s accession to the Western defense alliance. This comes as war continues to rage in Ukraine and both Finland and Sweden look to join NATO in the wake of Russia’s invasion of the country.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the decision at a press conference in Ankara alongside Finnish President Sauli Niinisto. He praised Finland for taking “authentic and concrete steps” to address Turkey’s security concerns and said that “with Finland’s membership, NATO will become stronger.” He also criticized Sweden for not handing over those wanted by Turkey.
The US has been advocating for the speedy ratification of both Nordic countries' accession and most allies are hoping for the northern enlargement to be finalized before the bloc's summit in July. Sullivan, the US National Security Adviser, expressed his approval of Turkish President Erdogan's declaration, and urged Turkey to also support Sweden.
The move comes after Finland and Sweden jointly handed over their NATO applications in Brussels in May last year, reversing their longstanding policy of nonalignment after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The 30-nation bloc officially invited the two countries to join the alliance in 2022.
Adding Finland to the alliance would double the current length of the border between NATO and Russia, which currently makes up only 6% of Russia's land boundary. It would also enable the alliance to start securing the area around the Baltic Sea in defense of its Baltic members, which are often seen as potential targets of Russian aggression.
In June of 2019, Turkey, Finland and Sweden signed a pact to alleviate tensions regarding the Nordics' participation in the union. Fidesz, Hungary's ruling party, announced on Friday that a vote in parliament in Budapest will be held on 27 March and that they will cast a “yes” vote. A prominent representative of the party stated that a determination on Sweden would occur “at a later time”.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg expressed the hope that both Sweden and Finland will become full members of the alliance by the time of the NATO summit in Vilnius in July.
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