In a significant development, Finland has received approval to become the 31st member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) after Turkey ratified the Nordic country’s membership bid. All current NATO members must vote unanimously to admit a new country into the alliance, and Hungary had previously ratified Finland’s bid, making Turkey the final country to do so. Finland shares a border with Russia, and its admission will more than double the size of NATO’s border with Russia.
Although the approval is a crucial step towards Finland’s NATO membership, several more procedures must be completed before the country officially becomes a member. Turkey and Hungary must dispatch acceptance letters to the United States, the depositary or safekeeper of NATO, which will be filed in the archives of the U.S. State Department.
Once the letters have been received, NATO will send an invitation letter to Finland to join the military alliance. Finland must then send its acceptance document, signed by Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, to the U.S. State Department, and once it reaches the State Department in Washington, the country will officially become a NATO member.
The addition of Finland to NATO is a significant strategic move, given its shared border with Russia. The decision has been taken amidst increasing tensions between Russia and NATO over security issues, including Moscow’s involvement in the Ukrainian conflict and military buildup along NATO borders. The expansion of NATO’s presence in the region will likely increase tensions further.
Finland and neighboring Sweden jointly applied for NATO membership in May 2022, but Sweden’s application has stalled due to opposition from Turkey. The Turkish president has said that his country will not ratify Sweden’s membership until disputes between Ankara and Stockholm are resolved.
Turkey has accused Sweden of being too lenient on groups that it considers to be terror organizations. Hungary’s parliament has also yet to ratify Sweden’s accession to NATO, and it is uncertain when it will do so.
Finland’s admission to NATO will significantly strengthen the alliance’s military capabilities and strategic presence in the Nordic-Baltic region. The country’s armed forces are already among the most advanced in Europe, and its inclusion in NATO will enhance the alliance’s deterrence and defense posture against potential Russian aggression. NATO has been expanding its presence in the region since the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014.
Finland’s decision to seek NATO membership has not been without controversy, with some domestic political parties opposing the move. However, the Finnish government has cited the deteriorating security situation in the region and increasing threats from Russia as the key reasons for seeking membership in the alliance. The country has a long history of military neutrality, and joining NATO will represent a significant shift in its foreign policy.
The approval of Finland’s NATO membership is a significant development in the changing security landscape in Northern Europe. The move is expected to have far-reaching implications for regional security and stability and may escalate tensions with Russia. However, the Finnish government has expressed confidence that its NATO membership will enhance its security and defense capabilities and contribute to regional stability.