Finland’s parliament to vote on NATO membership

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Finland’s parliament decided on Friday it would vote on February 28 to approve the necessary legislation to allow the country to eventually become a member of NATO, the head of its foreign affairs committee said.

“The goal is that the national legislative process required to join NATO is finished during this electoral term,” committee chief Jussi Halla-aho told reporters on Friday just two weeks before the parliament breaks for elections.

Last May, Finland and neighbouring Sweden applied to join the Western military alliance in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But existing member Turkey has opposed their memberships, accusing the Nordic countries of harbouring what it calls Kurdish terrorist groups.

“It is an expression of our will. Turkey’s stance towards our will is exclusively and only in Turkey’s hands,” President Sauli Niinisto told reporters on the sidelines of the Munich security gathering.

The legislation that ratifies NATO’s founding treaties in Finland is likely to be passed, given that most members of parliament are in favour of joining the alliance, bringing Finland a step closer to membership ahead of Sweden.

Niinisto said Finland would go ahead with its membership without Sweden if Turkey decided to ratify the Finnish bid but not the Swedish one.

“We don’t want to and also can’t withdraw our application,” Niinisto said.

Also Read: Ankara might accept Finland into NATO – President Erdogan

Finland will not become a member of the Western military alliance until Turkey and Hungary ratify its bid.

Though both Sweden and Finland have insisted they wish to join simultaneously, leaders of both countries have said they cannot rule out Finland going first.

Turkey has said it was not supportive of Sweden’s bid, though Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in January said he was open to ratifying Finland’s application.

“We are not taking part in any bazaar negotiations… we take care of our own part (in the ratifications),” the foreign affairs committee’s vice chairman Erkki Tuomioja told reporters.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said last Tuesday it does not matter whether the Nordic countries join together as long as the bids are ratified “as soon as possible”.

 

Zainab Sa’id

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