HELSINKI: (Reuters ) President Sauli Niinisto said on Friday that the destiny of Finland’s application to join NATO was in “Turkey’s hands” after the Finnish parliament decided to approve NATO’s founding treaties on February 28.
In reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Finland and its neighbouring Sweden submitted applications to join the Western military alliance in May. Turkey, a current member, has opposed their memberships, claiming that the Nordic nations harbour what it regards as terrorist organisations affiliated with the Kurdish people.
According to the chair of its foreign affairs committee, Finland’s parliament agreed on Friday that it will vote on Feb. 28 to pass the required legislation to ultimately enable the nation to join NATO.
“It represents our will in action. Turkey alone, and only Turkey, will decide how it will respond to our wishes “On the margins of the Munich security conference, Niinisto told reporters.
Given that the majority of parliamentarians support joining the alliance, the legislation that ratifies NATO’s foundational treaties in Finland is expected to succeed, moving Finland one step closer to membership ahead of Sweden.
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In the event that Turkey chose to approve the Finnish candidature but not the Swedish one, Niinisto said that Finland would proceed with its membership without Sweden.
Niinisto stated, “We don’t want to and also can’t retract our application.
Finland’s application to join the Western military alliance will not be approved unless Turkey and Hungary do the same.
Only two weeks before the parliament adjourns for elections, committee head Jussi Halla-aho told reporters on Friday, “The aim is to complete the national legislative procedure necessary to join NATO within this electoral term.”
Even though Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced in January that he was willing to accept Finland’s application, Ankara has said that it does not support Sweden’s ambition.
Vice-chairman of the foreign affairs committee Erkki Tuomioja told reporters, “We are not participating in any bazaar discussions… We take care of our own share (in the ratifications).”
As long as the membership bids are accepted “as quickly as feasible,” according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, it does not matter if the Nordic nations join forces.
Both Sweden and Finland submitted membership applications in May of last year, and although both have stated their desire to join at the same time, their leaders have stressed they cannot rule out Finland joining sooner.
The use and storage of nuclear weapons will continue to be prohibited in Finland, a NATO member as well, according to the report of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee.