Finland makes its way to NATO while Sweden's situation is still a mystery

Following almost a year of political hurdles and discussions, Finland’s application to NATO has been approved by the last holdout members, Türkiye and Hungary. The news stimulated delight throughout the alliance, while Sweden is still unsure of its future.

Turkish Grand National Assembly passed the bill to allow Finland's accession to NATO yesterday, removing all barriers ahead of the Nordic country, after the Hungarian Parliament approved similar legislation earlier this week.

At a press conference with his Finnish counterpart earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had indicated that the veto on Finland’s application would be lifted.

Last week, the Foreign Affairs Commission of the TGNA unanimously voted in favor of Helsinki’s accession, concluding the 10-month holdup.

With this, only the bureaucratic procedure remains before Finland’s formal accession.

For that, Ankara and Budapest will send their approving documents to the Alliance’s depository in Washington. Then, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will formally invite Helsinki into the Organization.

Following the invitation, Finland will deliver its “instrument of accession” to the Department of State of the United States.

After this final step, Finland will officially be NATO’s 31st member, following North Macedonia’s accession in 2020.

Turkish MPs who spoke during the congregation expressed their congratulations and good wishes towards the accession.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland posted, “Teşekkürler! Grateful to Grand National Assembly of Türkiye for the decision to ratify Finland’s Accession Protocol.” from its Twitter account.


Finland and Sweden jointly applied to access NATO in May last year. In the initial phases of the application, 28 members out of 30 had approved the Scandinavian countries’ accession.

Only Türkiye and Hungary abstained from supporting Helsinki and Stockholm’s applications outright.

The Nordic countries had to get Ankara and Budapest’s approval since newcomers to the Alliance must be approved unanimously.

For the abstention, Ankara has continuously pointed to several issues related to the ground, directly or indirectly, provided for terrorist organizations in the two countries and the embargos on arms sales.

Türkiye, Finland, and Sweden committed to a Trilateral Memorandum to overcome the issues last year in Madrid.

The reason the TGNA approved Finland’s appeal recently and did not employ the same measures for Sweden lies in “keeping the promises,” according to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Earlier this month, he emphasized the importance of extradition requests, indicating that Stockholm’s application became endangered by not following up with the demands from Ankara.

Turkish authorities have often vocalized that Ankara did not intend to keep any country out of the Organization and instead supported its “open door policy.”

Apart from Türkiye, Hungary still has not approved Sweden’s application, citing ‘grievances’ according to Reuters.

Government Spokesperson Zoltán Kovács stated this Wednesday, “There is an immense amount of grievances that need to be addressed before Sweden’s admission is ratified.”

Kovács emphasized that these grievances are caused by Stockholm’s “hostile attitude” toward Budapest over the years and said, “Adding Ankara’s concerns, Sweden needs to behave in a very different way,” reported Reuters.

Speaking to TT News Agency, Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister Tobias Billström remarked that he changed his estimates about joining NATO, conveyed Reuters.

Last week, he had commented that Stockholm’s accession to the Alliance by July’s summit in Vilnius was “obvious.”

Billström addressed the shifting circumstances yesterday, stressing that the clarity of the situation was no more.

He said he took note of recent remarks from Hungary. “I think ‘hopeful’ in this context is better,” he added.


Russian Ambassador to Stockholm made threatening remarks towards Sweden and Finland, claiming that joining NATO would be a “step towards the abyss.”

Russian Embassy to Stockholm shared a lengthy text on its website, “If anyone still believes that accession to NATO will somehow improve Europe's security, you can be sure that the new members of the hostile bloc will be a legitimate target for Russia's retaliatory measures, including military ones.”

After Tuesday’s remarks, the Swedish Government summoned Ambassador Viktor Tatarintsev.

Foreign Affairs Minister Billström said to TT that Tatarintsev was summoned to “Protest this blatant attempt of interference.”

The text included heavily critical words about Swedish external policy.

2023-03-31 - Mansur Ali BİLGİÇ