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Turkish parliament to debate Finland's Nato membership on Thursday

Ankara's approval is the only remaining obstacle to Finnish membership in the military alliance.

 Turkin parlamenttitalon päärakennus Ankarassa.
The Turkish parliament building in Ankara this week. Image: Mika Mäkeläinen / Yle
Yle News

The Turkish parliament is expected to approve Finland's Nato membership on Thursday after more than 10 months of delays.

According to an Yle correspondent in Ankara, the vote will likely be held after 10pm, following a debate about veterans' pensions. The session resumed around 8pm after a Ramadan dinner break known as iftar.

The Parliament confirmed the day's agenda in the early afternoon. The ratification of Finland's Nato membership was marked as the third of more than 100 items to be discussed on the parliament's agenda.

The legislature is expected to approve Finland's Nato membership by a clear margin. Yes votes are expected from the parliamentarians of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its nationalist ally the MHP, as well as most opposition MPs. The largest opposition party, HDP, said it will not vote against ratification.

After the parliamentary vote, Erdogan will have 14 days to sign it, according to Turkish law.

The lengthy agenda is due to a backlog ahead of the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections on 14 May.

Swedish Nato bid still on hold

Turkish approval is the only remaining obstacle to Finnish membership in the military alliance.

Finland and Sweden applied together last May, but Turkey still opposes Sweden's membership, insisting that it hand over Kurdish individuals that Ankara sees as terrorists.

Officials in Finland, Sweden and other Nato countries have still expressed hope that both countries will join the 30-member alliance before its summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, next July.

In Vilnius on Thursday, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said she hoped the Nato applications of Sweden and Finland would be "ratified quickly," adding the hope "that there will be 32 countries at the Vilnius summit."

Nato requires the unanimous approval of its members to take in new countries.

On Monday, Hungarian lawmakers ratified Finland's request to join Nato, but not Sweden's.

Members of Hungary’s governing party said they would wait for the government in Stockholm to clear up lingering disagreements before scheduling a vote in parliament. The government in Budapest alleges that some Swedish politicians have made derisive statements about the condition of Hungary's democracy and played an active role in ensuring that billions in EU funds were frozen over alleged rule-of-law and democracy violations.

21.05: Updated time of possible vote, other details

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