- The Washington Times - Friday, March 31, 2023

Finland will become the 31st member of NATO after Turkey’s parliament finally approved its application to join the alliance. The decision ends months of delay as Helsinki’s neighbor, Russia, continues its war against Ukraine, now in its second year.

Sauli Niinisto, Finland’s president, said he appreciated the support from the other NATO countries.

“Finland will be a strong and capable ally, committed to the security of the alliance,” Mr. Niinisto said in a statement posted on Twitter.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg applauded Turkey’s decision to sign off on Finland’s membership. During a press conference Friday at NATO headquarters in Belgium, he said the decision will strengthen the alliance.

“Finland has highly capable forces, advanced capabilities and strong democratic institutions,” Mr. Stoltenberg said. 

Turkey is continuing to drag its feet on allowing Sweden into NATO. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused them of harboring Kurdish organizations that it considers as terrorist groups. Under NATO rules, any country can apply to join the alliance, but the request must be approved by all member countries. 

For decades, Finland and Sweden avoided an alignment with NATO to avoid provoking the Soviet Union. The Scandinavian countries decided to rethink their neutral status and seek NATO membership following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We look forward to welcoming Sweden to join us as soon as possible,” Mr. Niinisto said.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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