On Thursday evening, the Turkish parliament ratified Finland’s entry into NATO, the military alliance that includes the United States and most of the European countries. For a new country to join the alliance it is necessary, among other things, that the parliaments of all member countries vote in favour. The Turkish parliament was the last to have yet to express itself: for months it had hesitated to approve Finland’s entry, accusing the Finnish government of supporting and welcoming members of some Kurdish organizations, in particular the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). With today’s approval Finland therefore has the certainty that it will join NATO.
Only a few formal steps are missing for official membership, which will be completed in the coming weeks and which will end with the signing of an acceptance document by the Finnish government, which must be sent to the US State Department. Once the document is delivered, Finland will effectively be a member of NATO.
For over seventy years, Finland had chosen not to join NATO, preferring to maintain a neutral position between the Western bloc and that of the Soviet Union first and then of Russia (also for purely geographical reasons, given that it shares a large border with Russia): The Finnish government changed its mind last year after Russia invaded Ukraine. Membership had been strongly desired by the government majority, led by Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Social Democrats, but the oppositions had also supported it: the issue garnered such broad consensus that in view of the parliamentary elections scheduled for 2 April it was almost completely absent from the electoral campaign.
In May 2022, Finland had formally requested entry into NATO together with Sweden: the governments of the two Scandinavian countries had made the announcement together for mainly symbolic reasons and mutual solidarity. But in the following weeks it had become quite clear that Finland would enter first.
Initially, the Turkish government had made it known that it would oppose the entry of the two countries, due to the support they had given to the Kurds of the PKK, an organization that Turkey, the United States and the European Union (therefore also Sweden and Finland) they consider terrorist, and against which the Turkish government has been at war for years.
But the allegations of terrorism against the PKK are highly contested and debated, also because the Kurdish population in Turkey has often been subjected to persecution. The allegations mainly aimed at Sweden, which in some cases treated PKK members as political refugees, providing them with protection and refusing to extradite them to Turkey.
Finland too had denied the extradition of PKK members in some cases, but to a lesser extent than Sweden, which instead has always remained intransigent on the issue in recent months. In mid-March, after months of hesitation, the Turkish government therefore announced that it would approve Finland’s entry into NATO, but not Sweden’s.
Before the vote in the Turkish parliament on Thursday, however, Hungary was also missing, which had initially decided to oppose Finland’s entry into the alliance, for reasons very different from those of Turkey.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had in fact repeatedly postponed the parliamentary vote, accusing Finland and Sweden of spreading “total lies” about the state of democracy in Hungary. In the end, the Hungarian parliament voted in favor of Finland’s accession on Monday 27 March, while the ratification of Sweden’s entry was postponed until a later date.
– Read also: Erdogan, the Kurds and Sweden in NATO
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