Turkey set to become last NATO nation to ratify Finland membership

Ankara, March 30 (AFP/APP): Turkey was on course Thursday to become the final NATO nation to approve Finland’s membership of the US-led defence alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Parliament scheduled a vote on the Nordic country’s accession after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan publically blessed the bid earlier this month.

The all-but-certain ratification will leave Finland — which has a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) border with Russia — with only a few technical steps before it becomes the 31st member of the world’s most powerful military bloc.

Officials expect the process to be completed as early as next week.

The Turkish vote was being held during a marathon session that threatened to stretch into the dawn hours of Friday. Deputies were expected to start discussing the candidacy around midnight and approve the bid a few hours later.

Finland and its neighbour Sweden ended decades of military non-alignment and decided to join NATO last May.

Their applications were accepted at a June alliance summit that was designed to show the Western world’s desire to stand up to Russia in the face of Europe’s gravest conflict since World War II.

But the bids still needed to be ratified by all the members’ parliaments — a process that stalled with Turkey and Hungary.