Following the invasion of Ukraine, the Finnish Parliament strongly endorsed the government’s application to join Nato, voting 188-8 to move through with the process in unison with its neighbour Sweden.
MPs in Helsinki backed Prime Minister Sanna Marin and President Sauli Niinisto’s assessment that joining Nato would be the greatest option for Finland’s security, signalling a reversal in Finland’s decades-long neutral posture since WWII. On Sunday, the leadership formally decided to apply to join the military alliance.
The vote in the Eduskunta assembly, which has 200 seats, was considered as a formality because politicians’ consent was not required.
In the following days, Finland is scheduled to sign a formal application and submit it to Nato headquarters in Brussels in the hopes of becoming the western alliance’s 31st member. The Nordic country, which shares a 1,340-kilometer border with Russia, is being pushed for Nato membership by its neighbour Sweden.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has expressed resistance to Finland and Sweden joining, a position that could put a monkey in the works later. Due to their stance toward the PKK, a Kurdish militant political party, the second largest member of Nato has chastised northern European states’ hasty attempts to shore up their security by joining the alliance.
Both countries, according to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are harbouring members of the PKK, which Ankara deems a terrorist organisation.
“Neither of these governments has a clear, forthright stance on terrorist organisations.” On Monday, Turkey’s president asked, “How can we trust them?”
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde formally signed her country’s application to Nato on Tuesday, a day after the country announced its intention to join the alliance.
Ms Linde posted a photo of herself signing the paper to social media on Tuesday, captioning it, “Just signed a historic indication letter from the Swedish government to Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.”
“Our application to join NATO has now been properly signed,” she continued. “It appears that we have made the best option for Sweden.”
Sweden’s decision ends the country’s 200-year military non-alignment, while Finland is abandoning its decades-long neutrality.
During World War II, Finland fought two battles against Russia and signed away nearly 10% of its territory. Following the violent occurrences, the Nordic nation declared a military non-alignment policy.
The EU’s foreign affairs leader, Josep Borrell, expressed optimism on Tuesday that Nato members will be able to overcome Turkey’s opposition to Sweden and Finland joining the alliance. He projected that members will show “very solid support,” while recognising that “Turkey has some misgivings.”
“I hope Nato is able to defeat them.” But this membership has my strong backing, as well as that of the Defence Council,” he continued.
To remove barriers on Finland and Sweden’s pathways to Nato, Germany’s Minister of Defense, Christine Lambrecht, said “intense” talks with Turkey would be required.
“All decisions involving Sweden and Finland joining NATO must be unanimous,” she stated. “That is why it is equally critical that we are now engaged in intensive conversations with Turkey, and that the concerns and arguments raised there are also taken seriously.”
Ms Lambrecht stated that joining the alliance with “two such strong EU countries” as Sweden and Finland will boost the security of all members, including Turkey.
“I am confident that Turkey will be convinced as well,” she stated.
Luxembourg’s Minister of Defense, Francois Bausch, said “nobody would understand” if the alliance refused to admit Finland and Sweden because, given their ideals, “they belong inside Nato, not outside.”
Following a similar step by Helsinki, Russia said on Tuesday that it was removing two Finnish embassy personnel. The Foreign Ministry summoned Finland’s ambassador to Russia and expressed its “strong protest” at the expulsion of two Russian diplomats from Finland in April, according to a statement.
Finland was also accused of following a “confrontational approach” with Russia, selling arms to Ukraine, and “covering up the atrocities of Ukrainian nationalists” against civilians, according to the report.
“The Russian side has decided that two staff employees of Finland’s embassy in Moscow cannot stay in the Russian Federation any longer,” the ministry said.
Gasum, Finland’s state-owned energy firm, has announced that it will stop receiving gas from Russia because it will not pay in roubles, as the Kremlin has required.
The company announced that it will take a dispute with Russia’s Gazprom energy giant to arbitration.