Top officials and political leaders in Finland have celebrated the Turkish Parliament’s clearing the final hurdle for the Nordic country to join NATO, applauding the move late Thursday as the start of a new era after a longstanding policy of nonalignment.
“These are historic days,” Finland’s foreign minister, Pekka Haavisto, wrote on Twitter.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin thanked NATO member nations and said that her country would continue to support Sweden, which applied for membership alongside Finland but has been held up by continuing opposition from Turkey and Hungary. “As allies, we will give and receive security,” she said in a statement. “We will defend each other.”
And Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö, said his country would “be a strong and capable ally, committed to the security of the alliance.”
Finland will hold national elections on Sunday in what is expected to be a tight race, with three parties essentially tied in recent polling. Several of the party leaders addressed NATO membership during a final televised debate on Thursday, in anticipation of Turkey’s vote. They wrapped up an hour before Turkey’s Parliament held the vote to ratify its NATO membership around midnight local time.
“This is a tremendously big day for Finland,” Petteri Orpo, the chairman of the center-right National Coalition Party, said during the debate. “Our NATO membership is sealed. After our membership in the European Union, this is the biggest decision that we have made.”
Turkey was the last of NATO’s 30 member nations to ratify Finland’s membership bid. That official endorsement must now be delivered to the United States’ government, which under the alliance’s founding treaty is responsible for safeguarding the documents.
The news was also welcomed by Finland’s Baltic neighbors, who, like the Nordic nation, are in close proximity to Russia.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas of Estonia posted a photo on Twitter of herself hugging Ms. Marin, and wrote: “The security of our region requires our joint action and cooperation. Let’s move forward for a secure future.”