Finnish Parliament Passes NATO Bill With Large Majority

By Reuters
March 2, 2023Europeshare
Finnish Parliament Passes NATO Bill With Large Majority
The plenary session where Finnish Parliament votes on Finland's accession to NATO, in Helsinki, Finland, on March 1, 2023. (Lehtikuva/Heikki Saukkomaa via Reuters)

HELSINKI—Finland’s parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly backed its bid to join NATO, the assembly’s speaker said.

Approval of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s treaties and Finland’s accession passed with 184 members of the 200-seat parliament voting in favor, seven against, and one abstaining.

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago, Finland last May applied to join NATO, having until now relied solely on its own armed forces to defend the 1,300-kilometer (800 mile) border it shares with Russia.

New NATO entrants must be approved by all existing members of the Western military alliance, and support for Finland’s application remains pending from Turkey and Hungary.

By adopting NATO’s founding documents, Finland may get a head start on neighboring Sweden, which has also applied to join but has had its application held back by Turkey.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said his country is ready to accept Finland into NATO but accuses Sweden of harboring people he considers members of terrorist groups.

Sweden is also still awaiting approval from Hungary, whose parliament began debating the ratifications on Wednesday and could hold a vote this month.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party will back the ratification of Finland and Sweden’s bid to join NATO, the party’s parliamentary group said on Wednesday, as lawmakers began the process after a months-long delay.

The announcement followed calls by Hungary’s president and a government official to swiftly endorse expansion of NATO.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg last week said he aimed to have both Nordic countries as members in time for a summit scheduled for July.

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