Mon, 05 Jun 2023

Finland is to become the 31st member of the US-led military alliance

Finland is set to become the 31st member of NATO after Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the decision of his parliament to ratify the Nordic country's passage into the US-led intergovernmental military alliance.

Erdogan's decision was confirmed in a document posted to Türkiye's official journal, Resmi Gazete, on Saturday, which stated that approval was authorized by the office of the president on Friday. The signature brings to an end a protracted ratification process which began last summer when Finland, as well as its neighbor Sweden, dropped decades of military neutrality to apply for NATO membership.

"As allies, we will give and receive security," Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin wrote on Twitter earlier this week following the vote of Ankara's parliament. "We will defend each other."

Ankara had objected to Helsinki's bid to join the alliance, primarily related to the fact that Finland was supporting Kurdish "terrorist groups" such as the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Sweden's entry to NATO is still being blocked by Türkiye for similar reasons.

Erdogan this month had praised what he called Finland's "authentic and concrete steps" to address Turkish security concerns.

Any expansion to the NATO alliance requires the unanimous approval of all member states. Finland will be formally introduced as a NATO member at its next summit in Lithuania in July. "I look forward to raising Finland's flag at NATO HQ in the coming days," NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter on Friday.

The document signed by Erdogan will be transported to Washington DC in the coming days where the original 1947 NATO treaty is stored. Once the document is processed by the US State Department, Finland's membership becomes official. A Finnish representative, likely the country's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, will be required to travel to Washington DC to sign the document.

Türkiye has not yet given a clear indication as to when it intends to ratify Swedish requests to join the alliance, though Ankara has signaled this will not come before Turkish presidential elections in May.

Stoltenberg told Politico this week that he hopes that Sweden can become the 32nd member of the alliance following Turkish elections, but before the annual NATO summit in Vilnius on July 11.


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