Finnish parliament sets Feb 28 to vote on NATO ratification

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto signs a petition for NATO membership application in Helsinki, May 17, 2022. (PHOTO / AP)

HELSINKI – Finland's parliament will vote on Feb 28 to approve the necessary legislation to allow the country to eventually become a member of NATO, the head of its foreign affairs committee said on Friday.

Last May, Finland and neighboring Sweden applied to join the Western military alliance in response to Russia's special military operation in Ukraine. But existing member Türkiye has opposed their memberships, accusing the Nordic countries of harboring what it calls Kurdish terrorist groups.

READ MORE: Finland's government sends NATO accession bill to Parliament

The goal is that the national legislative process required to join NATO is finished during this electoral term.

Jussi Halla-aho, Head, Foreign Affairs Committee, Finland parliament

The legislation that ratifies NATO's founding treaties in Finland is likely to be passed, given that most members of parliament are in favor of joining the alliance, bringing Finland a step closer to membership ahead of Sweden.

"The goal is that the national legislative process required to join NATO is finished during this electoral term," committee chief Jussi Halla-aho told reporters on Friday just two weeks before the parliament breaks for elections.

Finland will not become a member of the Western military alliance until Turkey and Hungary ratify its bid.

Turkey has said it was not supportive of Sweden's bid, though Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in January said he was open to ratifying Finland's application.

"We are not taking part in any bazaar negotiations… we take care of our own part (in the ratifications)," the foreign affairs committee's vice chairman Erkki Tuomioja told reporters.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said last Tuesday it does not matter whether the Nordic countries join together as long as the bids are ratified "as soon as possible".

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Both Sweden and Finland had applied for membership last May and while insisting they wish to join simultaneously, leaders of both countries have said they cannot rule out Finland going first.

The parliament's foreign affairs committee maintained in its report that the use and storage of nuclear weapons will remain forbidden in Finland, also as NATO member.