(Bloomberg) -- Finland’s parliament signed off on the plan to seek membership in defense alliance NATO alongside Sweden, marking a historic shift in the Nordic nations’ security policy.
The two are applying for entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to deter aggression from Russia. Public opinion in the European Union members -- that have shunned military alliances for as long as two centuries -- shifted overnight after Russia began waging a war in Ukraine in February, brushing off President Vladimir Putin’s demands that the organization not enlarge toward it.
Lawmakers in Helsinki voted 188 to eight to back the proposal, with none abstaining and three absent. The vote caps more than 14 hours of continuous debate in the legislature on Monday, and more on Tuesday, where the bulk of parliamentarians advocated for entry.
The Finnish bill will be signed by the government as well as President Sauli Niinisto before the application can be delivered to NATO at its Brussels headquarters. Sweden’s application requires no vote in parliament and was signed by Foreign Minister Ann Linde earlier on Tuesday, while policy makers have said they wish to submit the letters together.
The Nordic countries are also working to resolve Turkish opposition to their plans, after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday signaled he won’t allow them to join NATO because of their stances on Kurdish militants. The remarks were his clearest indication that he intends to block membership for the two countries, or at least extract concessions for it, since they announced their intentions to join over the weekend.
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