Finnish parliament passes NATO bill with large majority

184 members of the 200-seat parliament voted in favor, with seven against and one abstaining.

By Essi Lehto, Reuters - March 1, 2023

HELSINKI — Finland’s parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly backed its bid to join NATO, the assembly’s speaker said.

Approval of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s treaties and Finland’s accession passed with 184 members of the 200-seat parliament voting in favor, seven against and one abstaining.

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago, Finland last May applied to join NATO, having until now relied solely on its own armed forces to defend the 1,300-kilometer (800-mile) border it shares with Russia.

New NATO entrants must be approved by all existing members of the Western military alliance, and support for Finland’s application remains pending from Turkey and Hungary.

By adopting NATO’s founding documents, Finland may get a head start on neighbouring Sweden, which has also applied to join but has had its application held back by Turkey.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said his country is ready to accept Finland into NATO but accuses Sweden of harboring people he considers members of terrorist groups.

Sweden is also still awaiting approval from Hungary, whose parliament began debating the ratifications on Wednesday and could hold a vote this month.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg last week said he aimed to have both Nordic countries as members in time for a summit scheduled for July.

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