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'Welcome to NATO': Turkey's parliament ratifies Finland's membership

Turkey's parliament opens session to vote on Finland's NATO bid
Turkey's parliament opens session to vote on Finland's NATO bid Copyright Turkey's parliament opens session to vote on Finland's NATO bid
Copyright Turkey's parliament opens session to vote on Finland's NATO bid
By Euronews with AP
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Turkey’s parliament on Thursday ratified Finland’s application to join NATO, lifting the last hurdle in the way of the Nordic country’s long-delayed accession into the Western military alliance.

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Turkey’s parliament on Thursday ratified Finland’s application to join NATO, lifting the last hurdle in the way of the Nordic country’s long-delayed accession into the Western military alliance.

All 276 lawmakers present voted unanimously in favour of Finland’s bid, days after Hungary’s parliament also endorsed Helsinki’s accession.  The bid was publically endorsed by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan over one week ago. 

Alarmed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine over a year ago, Finland and Sweden abandoned their decades-long policy of nonalignment and applied to join the alliance.

Full unanimity is required to admit new members into the 30-member alliance and Turkey and Hungary were the last two NATO members to ratify Finland’s accession.

In a tweet, Finland's president Sauli Niinistö thanked NATO member states for their support and says he looks forward to welcoming Sweden to join them.

Sweden's bid still in limbo

Sweden’s submission to join the alliance, meanwhile, has been left hanging, with both Turkey and Hungary holding out on giving it the green light despite expressing support for NATO’s expansion.

Ankara has stalled Sweden's bid over its stance towards groups it considers to be terrorist organisations. It accuses Stockholm of being too lenient, especially concerning militant Kurdish groups and people associated with a 2016 coup attempt.

Hungary, who ratified Finland's NATO application on Tuesday, also disputes Sweden joining the alliance over comments made by Swedish politicians about Hungary's democracy. Stockholm voiced strongly that billions in European Union funds by with withheld from Budapest over alleged rule-of-law and democracy violations. 

Asked earlier this week about Sweden’s NATO membership, Erdogan told reporters: “There are certain things we expect of them. They must be fulfilled first.”

Sweden, which made constitutional changes to pass tougher anti-terrorism laws, has expressed hope that it will be able to join before NATO’s July summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Finland holds up its end of the bargain, according to Ankara

Turkish officials have said that, unlike Sweden, Finland fulfilled its obligations under a memorandum signed last year under which the two countries pledged to address Turkey’s security concerns.

“As a NATO member, we naturally had some expectations and requests regarding the security concerns of our country,” Akif Cagatay Kilic, a legislator from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s governing party, told parliament before the vote. “I would like to underline the concrete steps and their implementation by Finland, which supported and shaped the decision we are taking here.”

Kilic added: “I’m aware that there is a large number of people watching us from Finland. ... We can say to them: ‘Welcome to NATO.’”

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