Finland joins NATO as President Niinisto signs accession law

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Finland's President Sauli Niinisto

24th March 2023 – (Helsinki) In a historic move, Finland has officially joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), as President Sauli Niinisto signed the accession law on Thursday. The country’s bid was ratified by the parliament on March 1, paving the way for its formal inclusion into the military alliance.

Finland’s accession to NATO marks a significant milestone for the Nordic country, which has maintained a policy of neutrality since the end of World War II. It also reflects a growing concern among European nations over Russia’s military expansion and perceived aggression in the region.

Next, Finland will submit its NATO membership-related documents to the U.S. administration, once Hungary and Turkey ratify its membership bid.

Hungary’s parliament is expected to vote on Finland’s NATO membership bid next Monday, according to Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat. If Hungary approves the bid, Finland will only need Turkey’s ratification to complete the accession process.

During Niinisto’s visit to Turkey last Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to begin the process of ratifying Finland’s bid. According to Turkish media reports cited by Helsingin Sanomat, the foreign affairs commission of the Turkish parliament approved Finland’s NATO membership on Thursday. The matter will now be brought to the parliament’s general assembly for discussion.

All 30 NATO allies must sign off on the accession protocols of new members. To date, 28 member states have already done so, with Montenegro being the latest country to join the alliance in 2017.

Finland’s decision to join NATO has not been without controversy, with some Finns expressing concerns about the potential repercussions of the move. Russia, in particular, has been critical of Finland’s decision, warning that it could undermine regional security and stability.

However, supporters of Finland’s NATO membership argue that it will help to deter any potential military aggression from Russia and enhance Finland’s security and defence capabilities. They also believe that NATO membership will strengthen Finland’s position in the international community and provide economic benefits by opening up new opportunities for trade and investment.

Despite these arguments, Finland’s accession to NATO is likely to have far-reaching implications for the country’s foreign and security policies. It remains to be seen how the move will be received by Russia and how it will impact Finland’s relations with its non-NATO neighbours in the region.