The Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs committee has approved a bill that would ratify Finland’s NATO membership after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country would approve bringing Helsinki into the alliance without Sweden.
Turkey’s full parliament, the Grand National Assembly, still needs to approve the bill, and ratification is expected to happen before Turkey’s May 14 presidential election.
Turkey and Hungary are the only two NATO members that have yet to approve Finland and Sweden’s NATO bids. Hungarian leaders say they will ratify their memberships, and Hungary’s parliament is scheduled to vote on the issue on March 27, but it has delayed the debate several times before.
Also on Thursday, Finland’s president signed a law that will allow the country to join the Western military alliance. Now, Helsinki just needs to wait until Turkey and Hungary ratify their membership.
Finland initially began its NATO bid vowing that it wouldn’t join the alliance without Sweden. But after Erdogan said Sweden hasn’t done enough to join NATO and signaled he would approve Helsinki alone, Finnish officials abandoned that position.
Bringing Helsinki into NATO will significantly raise tensions with Moscow as Finland and Russia share an over 800-mile border, a region that is now destined to become further militarized. Russia’s military is planning to expand its presence in western Russia in response to Finland joining the Western military alliance.