Turkey clears the way for Finland's NATO membership

Markus Schreiber

Putin’s war in Ukraine has resulted in the expansion of NATO, not the shrinking of the international security alliance Mad Vlad hoped for as he invaded Ukraine. Putin’s neighbor, Finland, a country with which Russia has a checkered history, is now set to join NATO.


Turkey’s parliament has voted to approve Finland’s NATO membership bid, but not that of Sweden. The two countries applied for membership at the same time but their applications were stalled by Turkey. Turkey’s President Erdogan said he would not back Sweden’s membership until he sees “concrete steps” from Stockholm on its refusal to extradite terrorists affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). NATO officials claim that Sweden has met the terms of an earlier agreement on the matter.

NATO’s land border with Russia is now doubled. Putin’s gamble on aggression in Ukraine backfired on him.

Thursday’s vote was the last hurdle in Finland’s quest to join the military organization. Its eventual accession would remake European security, doubling NATO’s land border with Russia and bringing the full force of the alliance to Europe’s far north.

Turkey was the last holdout among NATO member countries, which need to approve new members unanimously. Once it notifies the United States that it has approved Finland’s bid, Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of the alliance, will formally invite Finland to accede to the Washington Treaty, according to NATO.

Hungary joined with ratifying Finland’s bid to join NATO but it also is holding off on doing the same for Sweden. According to a government spokesman, the country has an “ample amount of grievances” against Sweden. Those grievances include its “crumbling throne of moral superiority.” Hungary says Sweden needs to address its problems before joining NATO. Most officials and analysts think that Turkey and Hungary will eventually confirm Sweden’s membership but the arguing is taking up time and energy as Russia continues its war against Ukraine.


The Finnish prime minister and Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, released brief statements.

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in a tweet after the vote, “Thank you to all countries for your support. As allies, we will give and receive security. We will defend each other. Finland stands with Sweden now and in the future and supports its application.”

“I welcome the vote of the Grand National Assembly of #Türkiye to complete the ratification of #Finland’s accession. This will make the whole #NATO family stronger & safer,” Stoltenberg tweeted.

Finnish officials traveled to Turkey earlier this month to discuss its membership bid. Erdogan signaled his approval at that time. He held a joint news conference with the Finnish President, Sauli Niinisto. Erdogan said that Finland had taken “sincere and concrete steps” to fulfill its security commitments to Turkey made a year ago at a NATO summit in Madrid. “We decided to start the approval process of Finland’s NATO accession protocol in our parliament, based on the sensitivity and distance achieved by our country in addressing our security concerns,” Erdogan said.

Finland lifted its nearly three-year-long arms embargo on Turkey in January. That move was part of its effort to improve the two countries relations. Turkey joined NATO in 1952. It has the second-largest military in the alliance after the United States.


With Finland’s membership in NATO, a decades-long tradition of military neutrality ends.

Marin and Erdogan are up for reelection in their countries. Marin is popular but faces a tough re-election bid. Erdogan is up for reelection in May.

Russia is the big loser here and that is a good thing. 830 miles of new NATO territory have been added along the Russian border. The Finnish people can soon feel a greater sense of security at home as a part of the NATO alliance.

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