Turkish parliament ratifies Finland’s NATO accession

Turkey’s parliament approved a bill on Thursday to allow Finland to join NATO, clearing the way for Helsinki to join the Western defense alliance as war rages in Ukraine.

The Turkish parliament was the last among the 30 members of the alliance to ratify Finland’s membership after Hungary’s legislature approved a similar bill earlier this week, Reuters reported.

“The results for the open voting of the bill proposed by Tekirdag member of parliament, Mustafa Sentop regarding the approval of the protocol for ratification of Finland to join NATO as follows: Vote 276. Approved 276,” said Haydar Akar, the deputy speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. “As the parliament of Turkey, we congratulate the state and people of Finland. The bill proposal was approved.”

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said earlier in March that Finland had secured Turkey’s blessing after taking concrete steps to keep promises to crack down on groups seen by Ankara as terrorists, and to free up defense exports.

Finland and Sweden asked to join the trans-Atlantic military alliance last year in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But the process has been held up by Turkey and Hungary. The parliaments of all NATO members must ratify newcomers.

Turkey is still holding off approving the NATO membership bid of Sweden, which Ankara says has not gone far enough in cracking down on people Turkey considers terrorists. The three countries signed a pact on the issue last year.

According to Reuters report, the Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs committee unanimously approved the Finland bill last week. The Turkish legislative process was happening as it prepared for parliamentary and presidential elections on May 14.

Turkey has repeatedly said that Sweden needed to take additional steps against supporters of Kurdish militants and network members Ankara holds responsible for a 2016 coup attempt. Turkey treats both groups as terrorist organizations.

Reuters reported that talks between Sweden and Turkey have made little progress, especially following several disputes mainly over street protests by pro-Kurdish groups in Stockholm.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has said he had urged Turkey and Hungary to ratify both applications.

A vote on Sweden’s bid has not yet been scheduled in Hungary, Reuters reported.