File photo showing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. EFE/EPA/MARTIN DIVISEK

Turkish Parliament ratifies Finland’s entry into NATO

Vienna, Mar 30 (EFE).- The Turkish Parliament on Thursday ratified Finland’s entry into NATO, bringing to an end months of Ankara’s blocking of expanding the Atlantic Alliance.

The corresponding document accepting Finnish entry into the defense pact was adopted with the votes of all 276 lawmakers present in the parliamentary chamber, meaning that nothing now impedes Helsinki’s joining NATO given that Turkey was the only country among the 30 NATO partners that still had not agreed to allow the Scandinavian country with a long land border with Russia to become part of the alliance.

Turkey, however, is still continuing to block Sweden’s bid to join NATO.

Lawmakers supporting the government as well as those in the opposition who spoke during the debate on the law approving Finland’s entry issued a statement of “welcome” to their new partner.

Ahmet Kamil Erozan, a member of the opposition nationalist Good Party (IYI), criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for handling the process of expanding the military alliance as an internal political question.

“What is more probable is that Sweden’s joining will also be approved after the elections,” Erozan said, referring to Turkey’s general elections scheduled for May 14.

Only the pro-Kurdish Popular Democracy Party (HDP) abstained from voting on the matter because of its stance fundamentally rejecting all military and weapons agreements, Hisyar Ozsoy, an HDP lawmaker, said.

Meanwhile, Oszoy accused the government of having blackmailed Finland and Sweden and of forcing Stockholm to act against its own laws to deport Kurds who have been living in exile in that country.

The result of Thursday’s vote had been expected since Erdogan gave Helsinki’s entry into NATO the green light in early March after meeting in Ankara with his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinisto.

Both Erdogan and other Turkish officials, including Foreign Minsiter Mevlut Cavusoglu, said that Sweden continues to fail to comply with Ankara’s demands set forth in a memorandum signed last summer on the margins of the NATO summit held in Madrid.

Thus, the Turks continue to block Sweden’s entry, saying that it is not fulfilling its promises to hinder the activities of organizations that Turkey considers to be terrorist groups.

Ankara accuses Stockholm of providing protection to members of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party and demands their extradition before it will ratify the country’s entry into NATO.

Finland and Sweden, which have been neutral up to now, last year requested entry into the alliance, seeing their security threatened after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

EFE DT-wr/bp