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Finnish parliament approves NATO membership application

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The Finnish parliament has approved an application for the country’s NATO membership with an overwhelming majority. After a two-day debate, 188 MPs voted in favor of membership in the defense alliance on Tuesday, 8 voted against. This finally clears the way for a Finnish application for NATO membership.

Finland is thus ending a decade-long tradition of non-alignment. The application for NATO membership is a reaction to the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine and a changed security and threat situation. Finland shares a border with Russia that is more than 1,300 kilometers long.

President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin had already declared on Sunday that they wanted to submit an application. Niinistö now has to sign the application before it can be handed in together with the Swedish document at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde had already signed her country’s application on Tuesday morning. Earlier on Monday, Sweden had announced that it wanted to become a NATO member.

All 30 NATO countries have to approve the membership applications from Finland and Sweden. While NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has repeatedly emphasized in recent weeks that the two Nordic countries are warmly welcome in the alliance, it is now considered certain that Turkey will attach conditions to the admission of the two Nordic countries.

Finnish and Swedish diplomats plan to travel to Ankara later this week to speak with representatives of Turkey’s foreign ministry. “Turkey’s statements have changed and hardened rapidly in recent days. But I am sure that we can resolve the situation with the help of constructive talks,” said Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö in the Swedish parliament on Tuesday. Niinistö had previously arrived in Stockholm for a two-day state visit.

In view of a possible reaction by Russia to the planned NATO membership of Finland and Sweden, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) referred to existing assistance obligations. Germany is already obliged by the UN Charter and the EU treaty to “provide all the help and support in our power for mutual protection,” Scholz said on Tuesday in Berlin. In addition, military cooperation should now be strengthened, in particular through joint exercises in the Baltic Sea region.

In response to the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, Finland and Sweden have announced that they will apply for NATO membership. The defense alliance has promised both countries a quick admission process. This is important because during the transition period, candidate countries are not protected by Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which governs the so-called alliance case.