NATO: Turkey brings the last missing voice in favor of Finland's membership

The wait, even the suspense, lasted ten months

NATO: Turkey brings the last missing voice in favor of Finland's membership

The wait, even the suspense, lasted ten months. Turkey finally approved, on Thursday March 30, Finland's accession to NATO, becoming, after Hungary, the last of the thirty member states of the Atlantic Alliance to endorse Helsinki's candidacy.

At the end of a brief debate, during which they recognized Finland's "legitimate security concerns", the Turkish deputies unanimously voted by the 276 deputies present for the entry of this small Nordic country into the Atlantic Alliance. Helsinki now only has to send its "instruments of ratification" to Washington, where the Alliance treaty is kept.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the ratification, saying it would make "the NATO family stronger and more secure". Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, for his part, "thanked all [member states] for their trust and support", wishing the entry "as soon as possible" of Sweden whose fate is blocked for the time being. by the Hungarian Parliament.

"We will defend each other," promised Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, who will seek a second term in parliamentary elections on Sunday.

Forced neutrality

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the lifting of his veto on March 17 when he received Mr. Niinistö in Ankara, a decision immediately welcomed by the Atlantic Alliance. Turkey's parliamentary foreign affairs committee approved the membership last week.

Finland's and Sweden's membership applications were submitted together last year after Russia invaded Ukraine, and require the unanimity of NATO member countries to be approved. Finland, subject to forced neutrality by Moscow after its war with the Soviet Union in World War II, shares the longest European border (1,340 km) with Russia, behind Ukraine.

The Finnish president had expressed his "hope" for ratification ahead of Turkey's presidential and legislative elections scheduled for May 14, with parliament due to adjourn about a month before the double ballot is held.

"Finland stands with Sweden now and in the future and supports their candidacy," Sanna Marin tweeted. "The most important thing is that Finland and Sweden quickly become full members of NATO, not that they join exactly at the same time," Stoltenberg said.

'Legitimate targets' of 'Moscow retaliation'

Mr. Erdogan is still blocking the enlargement of NATO to Sweden by reproaching it for its passivity in the face of the presence of Kurdish "terrorists" welcomed on its soil and calling for extraditions on which the government does not have the last word. "There have been no positive steps taken by Sweden regarding the list of terrorists," Erdogan lamented, referring to more than 120 extradition requests made by Ankara.

The burning of a copy of the Koran by an extremist in the Swedish capital in January led to the suspension of talks between Ankara, Helsinki and Stockholm. However, Sweden hopes to complete its country's entry into the Alliance before the next NATO summit scheduled for July in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The Kremlin, which at first seemed to play down the importance of the candidacies of Finland and Sweden, has hardened its tone in recent weeks, estimating on Tuesday that the two countries would, once admitted to NATO, become "legitimate targets" of "retaliation from Moscow", including "military". Sweden had, in the wake of Wednesday, announced the summons of the Russian ambassador to Stockholm.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also claimed last week that Moscow would deploy "tactical" nuclear weapons on the territory of its ally, Belarus, located on the doorstep of the European Union.