HELSINKI – Finland was given the green light to join NATO when Turkey ratified the Nordic country’s membership late Thursday, becoming the last country in the 30-member Western military alliance to withdraw.
All NATO members must vote unanimously to admit a new country. into the alliance. The decision by the Turkish parliament followed Hungary’s ratification of Finland’s bid earlier this week.
The addition of Finland, which shares a 1,340 kilometer border with Russia, will more than double the size of NATO’s border with Russia.
However, a few more steps and procedures are required before the northern European nation becomes the 31st full NATO member:
Turkey and Hungary send letters of acceptance to the United States, which is NATO’s depositary, or custodian, according to the alliance’s founding treaty of 1949. The letters will be filed in the archives of the US State Department, which will notify NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that the conditions for inviting Finland to become a member are fulfilled.
NATO sends a letter signed by Stoltenberg inviting Finland to join the military alliance.
Finland sends its own approval document, signed by Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, to the US State Department. Finnish President Sauli Vainamö Niinistö authorized Haavisto to sign the document. Either the Finnish Embassy in Washington or a Finnish government official will deliver the document.
When Finland’s membership acceptance document reaches the State Department in Washington, the country officially becomes a NATO member.
Finland and neighboring Sweden jointly applied for NATO membership in May 2022. The countries, which have close cultural, economic and political ties, planned to join the alliance at the same time.
However, Sweden’s bid has stalled due to opposition from Turkey, whose president has said his country would not ratify membership until disputes between Ankara and Stockholm were resolved. The Turkish government has accused Sweden of being too soft on groups it considers to be terrorist organizations.
Hungary’s parliament has also not yet ratified Sweden’s accession to NATO, and it is still unclear when it will do so.