Finland to join NATO after Turkey approves accession bill

Finland to join NATO after Turkey approves accession bill
Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin. Credit: Belga/Eric Herchaft

The Turkish parliament has approved a bill to allow Finland to join NATO, removing the final hurdle for Finland's accession to the Western defence alliance – ending decades of the country's formal neutral status as war rages in Ukraine.

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

"NATO membership will strengthen Finland's security and improve stability and security in the Baltic Sea region and Northern Europe," the Finnish government said in a statement following the Turkish parliament vote.

Finland, which shares 1,300 kilometres of border with Russia, will now get help from other NATO members in case it is attacked. In terms of its military, the country does not need to change much as the Finnish army already meets NATO criteria.

Russian threats

From now on, Finland will join existing NATO missions in Poland and the Baltic states: Finnish aircraft could join NATO patrols, for example.

Previously, Russia expressed its unhappiness with the turnaround of its neighbouring country. "Finland and Sweden will become legitimate targets of retaliatory actions, including military ones," the Russian ambassador in Stockholm threatened this week.

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Sweden, however, has not received a green light from Turkey yet, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants Stockholm to extradite Kurdish Turks who have been granted political asylum in Sweden.

After the Turkish parliament's support, only a few bureaucratic steps remain to make Finland an official NATO member. NATO Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg will now formally invite the country to join.

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