February 26. 2024. 5:32

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Finland, Sweden to join NATO by July, says Finnish president

Finland and Sweden will become members of the NATO alliance by July, President Sauli Niinistö told the Finnish News Agency STT on Saturday.

According to the Finnish president, Finland and Sweden are to become NATO members at the alliance’s July summit in Vilnius.

Prolonging the accession process, which started at the Madrid summit in June last year, would challenge the credibility of the whole NATO accession process and make it even more questionable, he said, admitting that the lengthy process came as a surprise.

These sentiments are also shared by Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto of the Greens.

“Finland and Sweden have done everything in their power in the realm of the memorandum of understanding from last summer,” he told a panel discussion recently, adding that “all elements are now on the table; what is needed is a little bit more diplomacy.”

Echoing the sentiment that Finland has waited long enough and done everything towards membership, parliament also decided it would proceed with NATO legislation even if Turkey and Hungary were not to ratify Finland’s membership application.

In Hungary, the NATO applications from the two Nordic countries will be dealt with as soon as the parliament enters its spring session at the end of this month, the Finnish Ambassador to Hungary, Pertti Anttinen told YLE on Saturday.

However, the timetable for the ratification process remains unclear, and delays are possible, a Hungarian opposition politician Ágnes Vadai told YLE.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán may simply want to ”get even” as Finland has kept the issue of rule of law high on the European agenda, according to Heino Nyyssönen, a political scientist from the University of Turku.

The issue of Sweden’s accession being held up by issues with Turkey, was not mentioned.

Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan has said he will not give the stamp of approval needed for the country due to a number of issues including the deportation of those Ankara considers terrorists, and the recent burning of a Quran near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.

(Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)