Finland is set to become the latest country to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) after Turkiye ratified the Nordic country's membership late Thursday,
Turkiye, which had so far blocked the expansion, became the last country in the 30-member Western military alliance to sign off the historic bid by Finland. All NATO members need to vote unanimously to admit a new country into the alliance and Turkiye had so far held back on the decision.
The green signal by the Turkish parliament followed Hungary's ratification of Finland's bid earlier in the week. However, a few more steps and procedures are required before the northern European nation becomes the 31st full NATO member.
Turkiye and Hungary will dispatch acceptance letters to the United States which is the NATO depositary, or safekeeper, under the alliance's 1949 founding treaty. The letter will notify NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg about the conditions being met.
NATO then sends a letter signed by Stoltenberg inviting Finland, following which the Nordic country will send its own acceptance document signed by its foreign minister to the State Department in Washington. Once the document reaches, Finland will officially become part of the military alliance.
With Finland – which shares a 1,340-kilometre border with Russia – part of the alliance, it will more than double the size of NATO's border with Russia.
What about Sweden?
Finland and neighbouring Sweden jointly applied for NATO membership in May 2022. The countries, which have close cultural, economic and political ties, planned to enter the alliance simultaneously.
Sweden's bid was, however, stalled due to strong opposition from Turkiye, whose president said his country would not ratify membership before its disputes with Stockholm were resolved.
While Sweden’s NATO membership remains in progress, the country’s prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, congratulated Finland on its success.
“It would have been even better if we came in at the same time,” he said, adding that there are no guarantees that Sweden will be in by the NATO July summit in Vilnius, Lithuania's capital, as initially expected.
“We are now awaiting the Turkish election” in May, Kristersson said and added that a significant part of the situation dealt with Turkish domestic politics.
Hungary's parliament also has yet to ratify Sweden's accession to NATO.
(With AP inputs)