Turkey formally approves Finland’s NATO membership

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto (L) deliver a joint press conference held after their meeting at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, on March 17, 2023.

Adem Altan | Afp | Getty Images

Turkey’s parliament voted unanimously to formally approve Finland’s membership to NATO on Thursday, marking a historic step for the traditionally nonaligned Nordic country that shares an 830-mile border with Russia.

The vote follows a months-long saga that saw Turkey demand certain concessions from Finland and its neighbor Sweden, both of whom applied to NATO in May 2022 in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Joining NATO requires unanimous approval from all member states.

Turkey and Hungary remained the final holdouts standing in the way of the Nordic states’ accession to the 74-year old alliance. Ankara has yet to approve of Sweden’s membership bid, while Hungary — whose Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been on friendly terms with Russian leader Vladimir Putin — has approved Finland’s accession, but not Sweden’s.

Turkey joined NATO in 1952, and has the second-largest military in the alliance after the United States.

As of 2022, NATO has expanded to let in three former Soviet states and all of the former Warsaw Pact countries.

Bryn Bache | CNBC

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