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Finland allowed to join NATO after Turkish vote – POLITICO

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Turkey’s parliament on Thursday unanimously ratified Finland’s NATO membership, effectively allowing Helsinki to join the military alliance but leaving Sweden out.

Finland could now become an official NATO member within days.

“All 30 NATO members have now ratified Finland’s membership,” Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said. tweeted. “I would like to thank each 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, which takes place minutes before midnight in Ankara, comes after months of delay.

Finland and Sweden initially applied for membership last May, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And while the two countries were officially invited to join the alliance last summer, Turkey and Hungary have delayed ratifying their membership.

Ankara has raised concerns about countries’ support for Kurdish groups and restrictions on arms exports. But despite reaching a deal with Helsinki and Stockholm that spurred policy changes, Ankara ultimately decided to give Finland the green light while holding Sweden back.

The Hungarian parliament also ratified Finland’s membership on Monday but, like Turkey, has not yet scheduled a vote on Sweden.

Western officials had hoped the two countries would become full members ahead of a planned NATO leaders’ summit in Vilnius in July, but it remains unclear whether Sweden could still become members before the gathering.

Turkey is due to hold elections in May, fueling speculation that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan refuses to back Sweden for domestic political reasons and may change his mind later.

Niinistö, the President of Finland, said in his tweet on Thursday evening that “we look forward to welcoming Sweden to join us as soon as possible”.

Now that Finland has Turkey’s formal backing, only procedural steps remain before Helsinki officially joins NATO.

Finland will soon receive an official invitation from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and then hand over its so-called Instrument of Accession to the United States. The United States will then issue a statement stating that Finland is now part of the North Atlantic Treaty.

The NATO chief hailed Turkey’s vote.

“That”, Stoltenberg tweeted“will make the whole NATO family stronger and safer.”

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