31 Mar 2023, 15:24

NATO chief says Finland to become member 'in coming days'

BRUSSELS, March 31, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Friday

that Finland would formally become a member within days, as he congratulated
its president on clearing the final obstacle to joining.

"I look forward to raising Finland's flag at NATO HQ in the coming days.
Together we are stronger and safer," Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter.

After months of delays, Turkey's parliament on Thursday removed the last
hurdle for Finland by becoming the last member of the US-led military
alliance to ratify its application.

Stoltenberg said in separate statement that "Finland has highly capable
forces, advanced capabilities, and strong democratic institutions."

"So Finland will bring a lot to our alliance," he said.

NATO foreign ministers are meeting at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels
next week, when it is expected the membership could be formalised.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year upended European security and pushed
Finland and its neighbour Sweden to drop decades of non-alignment and seek to
join NATO's protective umbrella.

Stockholm application remains stuck, however, because of ongoing resistance
from both Turkey and Hungary.

But Stoltenberg insisted that "all allies agree that a rapid conclusion of
the ratification process for Sweden will be in everyone's interest,"

"I look forward to also welcoming Sweden as a full member of the NATO family
as soon as possible," he said.



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