Finland edges closer to joining NATO, setting deadline for co-applicant Sweden

© Heikki Saukkomaa, AP

Finland edged closer to joining NATO Wednesday after its parliament approved its accession and Hungary’s ruling party said it would support the bid being ratified.

Finland’s parliament on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly in favour of joining NATO, ahead of ratifications from Hungary and Turkey, increasing the likelihood it will enter the alliance before Nordic neighbour Sweden.

Lawmakers approved a legislation affirming that Finland accepts the terms of the NATO treaty by 184 votes against seven.

While joining NATO requires ratifications from all of its 30 members, Finnish lawmakers have pushed for the legislation to be passed before general elections on April 2 to avoid a political vacuum.

Passing the bill does not mean that Finland will automatically join NATO after ratification by Turkey and Hungary, but it puts in place a deadline for how long it can wait for its neighbour.

The government’s chancellor of justice, Tuomas Poysti, said that after the bill is approved by the parliament, the president can wait a maximum of three months to sign it.

Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto told reporters last week that he intended to sign the law "as soon as it is approved by Parliament" but "if there are practical reasons, I can wait".

Both Finland and Sweden dropped their decades-long policies of military non-alignment and applied to join the alliance last May in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.


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