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Finland cleared to join NATO following Turkish vote

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The Turkish parliament on Thursday unanimously ratified Finland’s accession to NATO, effectively allowing Helsinki to join the military alliance but leaving Sweden out in the cold.

Finland could now become a formal member of NATO within days.

“All 30 NATO members have now ratified Finland’s membership,” Finnish President Sauli Niinistö tweeted. “I want to thank every one of them for their trust and support. Finland will be a strong and capable Ally, committed to the security of the Alliance,” he said. His country, the president added, “is now ready to join NATO.”

The Turkish vote, occurring minutes before midnight in Ankara, comes after months of delays.
Finland and Sweden initially applied for membership last May, prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And while the two countries were formally invited to join the alliance last summer, both Turkey and Hungary have been stalling on ratifying their memberships.

Ankara has raised concerns about the countries’ support of Kurdish groups and limitations on arms exports. But despite striking a deal with both Helsinki and Stockholm that spurred policy changes, Ankara ultimately decided to greenlight Finland while holding Sweden back.

Hungary’s parliament on Monday also ratified Finland’s membership but like Turkey has yet to schedule a vote on Sweden.

Western officials had hoped that both countries would become full members before a summit of NATO leaders scheduled to take place in Vilnius in July, but it remains uncertain whether Sweden could still become a member before the gathering.
Turkey is set to hold elections in May, fuelling speculation that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is withholding support for Sweden for domestic political reasons and could change his mind at a later stage.

Niinistö, the Finnish president, said in his tweet late Thursday that “we look forward to welcoming Sweden to join us as soon as possible.”
Now that Finland has Turkey’s formal support, only procedural steps are left before Helsinki officially joins NATO.

Finland will soon get a formal invitation from NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and then give the U.S. its so-called instrument of accession. The U.S. will then issue a statement that Finland is now part of the North Atlantic Treaty.
The NATO chief welcomed Turkey’s vote.
“This,” Stoltenberg tweeted, “will make the whole NATO family stronger & safer.”

Source: Politico.eu

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