Finnish MPs vote to join Nato as Turkey blocks Swedish bid

Finnish MPs vote to join Nato as Turkey blocks Swedish bid

Finland’s parliament has voted to accelerate its bid to join Nato, as Sweden’s bid is still being blocked by Turkey’s veto.
Finland, which has a long border with Russia, and Sweden applied to join the 30-member alliance last May after Moscow invaded Ukraine.
Finland wants to move forward with membership before its general election on April 2, with public opinion supporting membership.
A parliamentary vote passed with 184 members of the 200-seat parliament voting in favour, seven against and one abstaining on Wednesday.
Only a few MPs opposed membership with Markus Mustajarvi from the Left Alliance party triggering Wednesday’s vote.
Nato requires unanimous approval from members to admit new nations. Turkey and Hungary have not formally endorsed Sweden and Finland’s accession.
The Hungarian parliament is due to debate the two applications this week with a vote expected in March. Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said talks with Sweden and Finland would resume on March 9, while claiming that Stockholm had not fulfilled its obligations under a deal signed last year.
Finland plans to fence 200km of its 1,300km border with Russia, saying it is to control immigration. Finland had an influx of Russians in September after Vladimir Putin ordered the mobilisation of reservists for the Ukraine war.
The fence, more than 3 metres high and topped with wire, will be equipped with night-vision cameras, lights and loudspeakers at sensitive spots.
Sweden’s membership campaign is being blocked by Turkey, which has accused it of supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), considered by Ankara and Washington as a terrorist group. A Kremlin-linked Swedish journalist burned a Koran at a protest in Stockholm in January and an effigy of President Recep Tayap Erdogan was hung upside down, prompting condemnation in Turkey.

Erdogan has said his country is ready to accept Finland into Nato but accuses Sweden of harbouring members of terrorist groups.

Nato general secretary Jens Stoltenberg last week said he aimed to have both countries as members before a summit scheduled for July.

Russia has feared and respected Finnish military prowess since the 1940 winter war. Picture credit: Wikipedia

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