Finland cleared to join Nato as Turkish parliament backs accession

Finland cleared the last major hurdle in its bid to join NATO after Turkey’s parliament approved the Nordic country’s entry into the western military alliance.

The General Assembly, controlled by a coalition led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, voted to ratify the move just before midnight on Thursday. Turkey is the last of the 30 NATO countries to support Finland’s membership. Neighboring Sweden is still waiting for both Turkey and Hungary to agree to its NATO bid.

NATO expansion comes at a time when relations between Russia and the West are at their lowest in decades following President Vladimir Putin’s all-out war in Ukraine.

Finland shares a 1,340km border with Russia, which will give the western alliance a more prominent foothold in the region and give Helsinki the added security of belonging to a club that counts the leading military powers of the US and Europe as members.

Several procedural steps are still needed before Finland can become NATO’s 31st member, but officials in Helsinki expect them to be completed early next month.

Sweden’s NATO entry is far more uncertain. Erdoğan, in the midst of a tricky presidential campaign, is under increasing pressure from NATO allies to agree to Sweden’s membership. Many Western officials believe he will delay his decision until the alliance’s summit in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius in July.

Ankara has lobbied for Sweden to hand over dozens of people it believes are terrorists in exchange for its support. But Sweden argues it can do no more to meet Turkey’s demands. Stockholm has already announced changes to its anti-terrorist legislation that will come into force in early June. A Nordic official said the concession “offers Erdoğan a chance to get a win if he wants it”.

Hungary, which last week approved Finland’s bid for membership, has also so far refused to back Sweden’s bid to join NATO, in what diplomats see as an attempt to win concessions in Budapest’s fight to free up EU funds.

Washington and European capitals had hoped Finland and Sweden would join NATO together, but are now urging Ankara and Budapest to back Stockholm’s bid amid growing regional security concerns. Tensions escalated Thursday as Russia arrested a foreign journalist for the first time since its all-out invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking at a press conference in London on Wednesday, Swedish Defense Minister Pål Jonson said he was “glad that Finland is joining NATO” and stressed that Sweden’s relationship with NATO is stronger than ever – albeit not soon there would be defense planning with Finland and other Nordic countries more difficult.

Jonson added that he respected the sovereign decisions of Turkey and Hungary and that he had no “evidence” that the two countries were acting in concert.

Speaking at the same UK Defense Ministry event, UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said he was optimistic Ankara would approve Sweden’s accession in time for the NATO summit in July, two months after Turkey’s general election, which put a “pause” on the process “.

“In my conversations . . . From both my Turkish defense colleague and other leaders of the Turkish security apparatus, I think there is real recognition of how far Sweden has come in areas like the PKK [and] Fighting terrorism,” he said.

Wallace added: “Whether this week, this month or next year, I think Sweden will be in NATO.” Finland cleared to join Nato as Turkish parliament backs accession

Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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