The final obstacle standing in Finland’s way of joining the Western military alliance as the war in Ukraine rages has been removed with the approval of its NATO membership by Turkey’s parliament.
Days after Hungary’s parliament also approved Helsinki’s application, all 276 of the present lawmakers on Thursday voted in favor of Helsinki’s membership.
Akif Cagatay Kilic, a legislator from Erdogan’s governing party, told parliament before the vote that “as a NATO member, we naturally had some expectations and requests regarding the security concerns of our country.
The Turkish parliament was the last among the 30 members of the alliance to ratify Finland’s membership.
In a tweet, Finland’s president Sauli Niinistö thanked NATO member states for supporting his country’s bid to join the alliance.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg also welcomed the move.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier this month that Finland had secured his country’s blessing after taking concrete steps to crack down on groups seen by Ankara as “terrorists” and free up defence exports.
Finland and Sweden had asked to join the transatlantic military alliance last year in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, 2022. The move ended decades of military non-alliance by the two countries.
Sweden’s bid to join the alliance, meanwhile, has been left in limbo, with both Turkey and Hungary withholding approval despite expressing support for NATO’s expansion.
Turkey’s government has accused Sweden of being too lenient towards Kurdish groups it considers “terrorists” as well as people associated with a 2016 coup attempt.
For its part, Hungary’s government has contended that some Swedish politicians have made derisive statements about the condition of Hungary’s democracy and played an active role in ensuring that billions in European Union funds were frozen over alleged rule-of-law and democracy violations.
Turkish officials said on Thursday that, unlike Sweden, Finland fulfilled its obligations under a memorandum signed last year in which the two countries agreed to address Turkey’s security concerns.