BRUSSELS: Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said Friday that Finland would formally become a member within days, as he congratulated its president on clearing the final obstacle to joining.
“I look forward to raising Finland’s flag at Nat HQ in the coming days. Together we are stronger and safer,” Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter.
After months of delays, Turkey’s parliament on Thursday removed the last hurdle for Finland by becoming the last member of the US-led military alliance to ratify its application.
Stoltenberg said in separate statement that “Finland has highly capable forces, advanced capabilities, and strong democratic institutions.”
“So Finland will bring a lot to our alliance,” he said.
Nato foreign ministers are meeting at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels next week, when it is expected the membership could be formalised.
Russia’s war in Ukraine last year upended European security and pushed Finland and its neighbour Sweden to drop decades of non-alignment and seek to join Nato’s protective umbrella.
Stockholm application remains stuck, however, because of ongoing resistance from both Turkey and Hungary.
But Stoltenberg insisted that “all allies agree that a rapid conclusion of the ratification process for Sweden will be in everyone’s interest,”
“I look forward to also welcoming Sweden as a full member of the NATO family as soon as possible,” he said.
“I welcome the vote by the Turkish Grand National Assembly to ratify Finland’s membership in NATO. All 30 NATO allies have now ratified the accession protocol.”
“And I have just spoken with President Sauli Niinisto to congratulate him on this historic occasion,” Stoltenberg said.
He said: “All allies made a historic decision last year to invite Finland and Sweden to join our alliance. Since then, we have seen the fastest ratification process in Nato’s modern history. All allies agree that a rapid conclusion of the ratification process for Sweden will be in everyone’s interest. I look forward to also welcoming Sweden as a full member of the NATO family as soon as possible.”
Turkish Parliament on March 30 voted all the way in favour of Finland’s application to join NATO, clearing the last hurdle in the accession process, while also continuing to block Sweden from joining the military alliance.
Ankara’s vote fulfils Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “promise” to allow Finland to become part of the military alliance.
Finland and Sweden in 2022 submitted applications to join Nato. A majority of Nato members, except for Turkey and Hungary had welcomed the applications by the two Nordic countries.
Turkish President Erdogan had accused Finland and Sweden of housing Kurdish “terrorist organizations.”