HELSINKI — Finland has moved one step closer to joining NATO after Hungary ratified the Nordic country’s bid on Monday. A similar decision is expected in the coming weeks from Turkey, the only alliance member that hasn’t approved Finland’s membership.
Still, there are specific steps and procedures that are required before Finland becomes the 31st full member of the Western alliance:
Hungary and Turkey - once it has ratified Finland's bid - dispatch acceptance letters to the United States which is the depositary - or safekeeper - of NATO under the alliance's 1949 founding treaty. The letters will be filed in the archives of the U.S. State Department which will immediately notify NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that the conditions for inviting Finland to become a NATO member have been met.
NATO subsequently sends Finland an invitation letter signed by Stoltenberg to join the military alliance.
Finland sends its own acceptance document, signed by Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, to the U.S. State Department. Haavisto was authorized to sign the document by President Sauli Niinistö. Either the Finnish Embassy in Washington or a Finnish government official will deliver the document.
Once Finland's membership acceptance document reaches the U.S. State Department in Washington, the Nordic country officially becomes a full NATO member.
Finland and neighboring Sweden announced their intention to join NATO in May 2022. The countries, which have close cultural, economic and political ties submitted their bids together and planned to enter the alliance simultaneously.
Sweden’s bid, however, has stalled due to opposition from Turkey whose president has said his country wouldn’t ratify membership before disputes between Ankara and Stockholm are resolved. The Turkish government has accused Sweden of being too soft on groups that it deems to be terror organizations.
Moreover, Hungary's parliament has yet to ratify Sweden's NATO membership bid and it remains unclear when it will do so.