Finland has joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The Baltic country became the 31st member of the western military alliance through the fastest ratification process in its modern history.
In May 2022, Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership.
NATO Allies signed Finland’s Accession Protocol on July 5, after which all 30 national parliaments voted to ratify the country’s membership.
Turkey was the last remaining country to ratify Finland’s membership bid.
At a ceremony held at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto deposited with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken the ratification of the instrument of acceding to the protocol for Finland’s accession to NATO.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg then welcomed Finnish President Sauli Niinistö for a flag-raising ceremony to mark the country’s accession to the Alliance.
“I am deeply proud to welcome Finland as a full-fledged member of our Alliance and I look forward to also welcoming Sweden as soon as possible,” he said. “Joining NATO is good for Finland, it is good for Nordic security and it is good for NATO as a whole,” he added. The Secretary General also noted that Finland’s accession shows the world that President Putin failed to “slam NATO’s door shut.” “Instead of less NATO, he has achieved the opposite; more NATO and our door remains firmly open,” he said.
The Finnish national anthem and the NATO hymn were played, as Finland’s flag was raised outside NATO Headquarters for the first time, in the presence of President Niinistö, Foreign Minister Haavisto, Defence Minister Kaikkonen, the foreign ministers of all NATO Allies and invitee Sweden.
Welcoming Finland as NATO’s 31st Ally, President Joe Biden said that when Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his war of aggression against the people of Ukraine, he thought he could divide Europe and NATO. “He was wrong. Today, we are more united than ever. And together—strengthened by our newest Ally Finland—we will continue to preserve transatlantic security, defend every inch of NATO territory, and meet any and all challenges we face”.
He said he looks forward to welcoming Sweden as a NATO member as soon as possible, and urged Turkey and Hungary to conclude their ratification processes without delay.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insists on returning PKK militants for his country’s ratification of Sweden’s bid to join NATO.
The North Atlantic Council’s approval of the applications for NATO membership requires ratification by the parliaments of all the countries of the 31-member bloc.
Hungary and Turkey remains the only NATO members that have not yet ratified the instrument of ratification of Sweden’s Accession Protocols.
Within minutes of officially getting NATO membership, Finland’s Foreign Minister Haavisto deposited the Finnish ratification for Swedish membership. “This is our first act as a member state,” he told his U.S. counterpart Blinken.
The historic day for the Alliance came on the 74th anniversary of NATO’s founding.
The expansion of the defense bloc with the addition of Finland is seen as a big political challenge by Russian President Vladimir Putin as his war to conquer Ukraine grinds ahead.
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