‘Welcome to NATO’: Turkey’s parliament ratifies Finland’s membership

Turkey’s Parliament ratified Thursday Finland’s application for NATO membership. This cleared the last hurdle to the long-delayed accession of the Nordic country into the Western military alliance.

After the unanimous vote of all 276 legislators, Finland’s bid was approved by them all. This came just days after Hungary’s parliament had also supported Helsinki’s accession. Recep Tayyip Erdan, Turkish president, publicly endorsed the bid just one week ago.

Alarmed by Russia’s invasion in Ukraine more than a year ago Finland and Sweden applied for alliance membership after abandoning their decades-long nonalignment policy.

To admit new members to the alliance of 30 members, full unanimity must be achieved. Turkey and Hungary were the two last NATO members to ratify Finland’s accession.


Sauli Niinisto, Finland’s president, tweeted that he thanked NATO members for their support and said he was looking forward to welcoming Sweden.

Sweden’s bid remains in limbo

In the meantime, Sweden’s request to join the alliance has been left hanging. Turkey and Hungary are refusing to give it the go-ahead despite their support for NATO’s expansion.

Ankara has stopped Sweden from applying for asylum because of its attitude towards terrorist groups. It accuses Stockholm, particularly in relation to militant Kurdish groups or people associated with a 2016 coup effort, of being too permissive.

Hungary, which ratified Finland’s NATO application Tuesday, also protests Sweden joining the alliance, following comments by Swedish politicians regarding Hungary’s democracy. Stockholm strongly argued that Budapest should not receive billions of EU funds due to alleged violations of democracy and rule-of-law.

Erdogan answered reporters earlier this week when asked about Sweden’s NATO membership. These must be met first.

Sweden, which has made constitutional amendments to strengthen anti-terrorism laws, expressed optimism that it can join NATO before the July summit in Vilnius (Lithuania).

According to Ankara, Finland keeps its end of bargain

Turkish officials claim that Finland, unlike Sweden has fulfilled its obligations under the memorandum it signed last year, under which both countries promised to address Turkey’s security issues.

“As NATO members, we naturally had expectations and requests regarding security concerns of our country,” Akif Kagatay Kilic, a member of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party, said to parliament before the vote. “I want to highlight the concrete steps and their execution by Finland, who supported and shaped this decision.”

Kilic said, “I am aware that there are a lot of people watching us in Finland.” We can tell them, ‘Welcome NATO!’