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Mar 23, 2023
Finland’s President Signs NATO Law as Accession Draws Nearer
(Bloomberg) -- Finnish President Sauli Niinisto signed the law that allows Russia’s neighbor to join NATO once its missing ratifications — from Hungary and Turkey — are completed in the coming weeks.
The president signed the bill on Thursday in Helsinki after it was passed by the parliament earlier this month. Hungary is slated to vote on the ratification of Finland’s application next week, while Turkey has said it will do so before its parliament goes on recess ahead of the May 14 elections.
The stance taken by the two holdouts last week to approve the entry of Finland but not Sweden decouples the Nordic countries’ bids to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, filed in May to deter any Russian aggression following its invasion of Ukraine. The move cast further doubt on the timeline of the accession of Sweden, which on Wednesday passed its domestic NATO law in preparation for membership.
The US has pushed for the fast ratification of both bids and most allies want the northern enlargement completed by the bloc’s upcoming summit in July. Finland’s membership is set to enable the alliance to start securing the area around the Baltic Sea in defense of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which are often seen as potential targets of Russian aggression.
Sweden, meanwhile, has been left puzzled by the separation of its application from Finland’s. While Turkey has made its objections known, it’s unclear why Hungary continues to drag its heels.
“I didn’t get an actual explanation, only the message that they have no intention of delaying any country’s accession,” Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said after talking to his Hungarian counterpart, Viktor Orban, at an EU summit in Brussels. “I don’t see any reason for delay, but we are aware that every country makes it’s own decisions.”
(Adds comments from Sweden’s prime minister in 6th paragraph.)
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