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Hungary ratifies Finland's Nato bid

Turkey is expected to vote on Finland's alliance membership as early as this week.

Ungerns parlamentsbyggnad upplyst i kvällsmörkret
File photo of Hungary's House of Parliament in Budapest. Image: EPA-EFE
Yle News

The Hungarian Parliament ratified Finland's Nato membership application in a vote of 182 to 6 on Monday evening.

Hungarian Parliament has 199 members. Ahead of the vote, five speeches were made during the discussion, three of which by opposition representatives and two from the Fidesz ruling party.

During discussions, opposition MP Elöd Novák said Hungary should not permit Finland and Sweden to join Nato.

At the beginning of this month, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz party pledged to back the ratification of both countries.

Previously, Orban had voiced concerns about Finland and Sweden's membership bids, accusing the countries of spreading lies about Hungary's quality of democracy and rule of law.

However, on Monday, Fidesz parliamentary group leader Máté Kocsis confirmed the party's support for Finland's accession. The Fidesz party holds about two-thirds of seats in parliament.

Until Monday's vote, Hungary and Turkey were the last of Nato's 30 member states that had not approved Finland's bid to join the alliance.

Now, following the vote, Turkey is the sole remaining Nato country yet to approve Finland's membership, but its parliament is expected to vote on the matter as early as this week.

Separately, but as neighbours

Of all Nato member states, Turkey voiced the most opposition to the Nordic nations' membership bids, particularly Sweden's. Turkey's primary objections have been related to the countries' policies regarding the PKK (Kurdish Workers' Party), which Turkish authorities consider to be a terrorist organisation.

Ahead of the vote on Monday, Yle's special reporter on Nato, Mika Hentunen, suggested that Hungary did not want to be the last alliance member to approve the application. Its ratification vote was originally scheduled to take place last September.

Finland and Sweden jointly applied to join Nato in mid-May of last year, with leaders of both countries emphasising the importance of joining the alliance together.

However, hopes of achieving simultaneous membership began to dwindle, as recently as this month, particularly when it became clearer that Finland's Nordic neighbour would have to wait a little longer for Turkish approval.

Once the acceptance letters from all 30 member states are in Washington, Nato will send an invitation letter to Finland, according to newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, which examined the process in a story published on Monday.

Edited at 19:36 to replace incorrect photo of Hungarian House of Parliament.

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