Lawmakers in the session hall of the Finnish Parliament on Wednesday, 1 March 2023. The Parliament voted 184 for and 7 against a bill concerning Finnish membership in Nato. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)


THE FINNISH PARLIAMENT on Wednesday reiterated its overwhelming support for joining Nato.

Members of the Parliament voted 184 for and 7 against a government bill regarding the membership, with one lawmaker casting a blank vote and seven being absent from the vote. President Sauli Niinistö has announced his intention to approve the national legislation without delay after the vote in the Parliament.

The Finnish membership is therefore solely in the hands of the two member states that have yet to ratify the application, Hungary and Turkey.

On Wednesday, the nay votes came from six members of the Left Alliance – Veronika Honkasalo, Katja Hänninen, Anna Kontula, Markus Mustajärvi, Matti Semi and Johannes Yrttiaho – and Ano Turtiainen, the sole member of Power Belongs to the People.

The lack of opposition did not come as a surprise. The Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee had issued a unanimous statement backing the bill, while last spring lawmakers had voted 188 for and 8 against applying for membership in Nato, reminded YLE.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto (Greens) on Wednesday expressed his satisfaction with the widespread support given to the membership by lawmakers. Both Finland and Sweden, he viewed, will become members of the alliance by its summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July.

Finland and Sweden simultaneously submitted their membership applications to Nato on 18 May 2022.

“The clock’s ticking on the issue also at Nato. If we don’t find ourselves in the situation that Finland and Sweden are Nato members at the Vilnius summit, it does cast a shadow over the open-door policy of Nato. I believe that the vast majority of the 28 Nato countries that have already ratified [the membership bids] think the same,” he was quoted saying by YLE.

Jussi Halla-aho (PS), the chairperson of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, declined to speculate on when the accession could take place.

“We have no idea when Turkey plans to ratify the Finnish and Swedish memberships, or one of them. From Hungary, we’ve heard various promises and hints over the past year about when the process could happen, but the dates tend to get pushed back time after time,” he said to the public broadcasting company.

The Hungarian Parliament began discussing the Finnish and Swedish membership applications yesterday, with only about two dozen of its 199 members showing up, according to YLE. The members are expected to vote on the ratification later in March.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT