The Parliament of Finland begins this Tuesday to discuss the bill of accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), although it still does not have the necessary green light of Turkey and Hungary.
Finland, where Prime Minister Sanna Marin is at stake for her term in the general elections on April 2, wants to avoid a political vacuum so that she can catch the NATO train once she has the “Yeah” from Ankara and Budapest.
The bill will be voted on Wednesday, without waiting for neighboring Sweden, also a candidate since last year, which has not yet managed to lift Turkey’s veto.
The deliberation of the 200 members of the parliament coincides with the visit to Finland of the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, for meetings with the main leaders of the Nordic country of 5.5 million inhabitants.
Twenty-eight of the 30 members of the Transatlantic Alliance, including the United States, have already ratified the entry of the two Nordic countries.
But Hungary is still missing, known for its more ambiguous positions towards Moscow, and Turkey, which wants to establish itself as a mediator in the conflict in Ukraine and at the same time seeks to resolve old disputes with Sweden, mainly due to the Kurdish militants taking refuge in that country.
From Helsinki, Stoltenberg stated on Tuesday that “The time has come” that Turkey and Hungary ratify the entry of Finland and Sweden into NATO.
“Both Finland and Sweden have fulfilled what they had promised in their trilateral agreement with Turkey last June in Madrid,” insisted.
NATO membership has almost unanimous support from Finnish parties, including those that were against the alliance before the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Finland and Sweden decided to turn the page on their policy of military non-alignment in force since the 1990s, heir to decades of neutrality, and applied to NATO in May 2022.
Finland had so far expressed its willingness to join with Sweden. But Stockholm’s difficulties with Ankara, culminating in a series of diplomatic incidents in January, turned the tide.
Stoltenberg himself recognized at the beginning of February that the most important thing was not the entry of both countries at the same time, but rather that it take place as soon as possible.
Will Finland and Sweden join NATO separately?
“We could separate the accession process of Sweden and Finland”Tricky Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu said on Monday.
The approval of the Finnish law does not mean that the country will automatically enter the military alliance once it obtains the ratification of Hungary and Turkey.
But at least it sets a clear timetable: after its adoption, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö has a maximum of three months to sign it.
This has already advanced that it will do so “from its approval.” “If there are practical reasons, I can wait (…) but not beyond the April 2 elections,” he claimed.
Then, according to NATO customs, the country must send the instruments of accession to Washington. “in a few weeks at most”, explained the Chancellor of Justice, Tuomas Pöysti.
A majority of Finns (53%) want to join NATO without waiting for Sweden, according to a poll published in early February.
Finland was under Swedish rule until 1809, before becoming a Russian Grand Duchy until its independence during the Russian Revolution of 1917.
The Nordic country, subjected to enforced neutrality by Moscow after its conflict with the Soviet Union during World War II, shares the longest European border with Russia behind Ukraine.
Huge fences are due to be put up on some portions of this 1,340-kilometre border starting in the spring due to tensions with Moscow.
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