Following a holdout, Turkey joined other member states in voting to allow Finland into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Thursday. Finland is the 31st nation to join the alliance.
Turkey held out support over concerns that the nordic country would support Kurdish offensive efforts, according to the BBC. Sweden petitioned for membership in late May, but is still being blocked over similar concerns. Any acceptance into NATO requires approval from all member nations before anything can be made official.
Finland will be formally welcomed at the next NATO summit in Lithuania in July.
“I look forward to raising Finland flag at [NATO] HQ in the coming days. Together we are stronger & safer,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday on Twitter.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said in a statement that Finland is ready to be a “strong and capable Ally.” Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin pledged to “give and receive security” following the Turkish vote.
Finland and Sweden originally applied for membership in late May following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The two were invited to join as allies, but ratification was held out due to votes from Turkey and Hungary. The Turkish capital accused the two countries of supporting Kurdish militant groups according to Politico. Hungary’s parliament ratified acceptance Monday but, like Turkey, is yet to schedule a vote for Sweden’s membership.
Finland holds a roughly 832-mile border with Russia. The country possesses one of the strongest weaponry arsenals in Western Europe, and has turned on its neutral stance in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to the BBC. (RELATED:‘That’s Pathetic’: GOP Rep Shreds Defense Secretary For Letting NATO Allies Skimp On Spending)
Sweden ditched its neutral stance as well, but the country does not share a border with Russia.
Finland is set to join a number of NATO member countries along the Baltic Sea, further isolating Russia’s coastal access.
Finnish public support for joining NATO rose to nearly 80% in late 2022, according to a survey from Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA following a November poll, and over half of Finnish respondents believed “Finland should be open to all cooperation within NATO, including having military bases located inside Finland.”