Riigikogu geared up to ratify Finland, Sweden NATO applications Wednesday

Riigikogu's main debating chamber.
Riigikogu's main debating chamber. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The Riigikogu is set-up to convene on an extraordinary basis on Wednesday, in order to ratify Finland and Sweden's applications to join NATO, speaker Jüri Ratas (Center) says, though whether it goes ahead hinges on a decision from the North Atlantic Council (NAC).

Parliament went on summer recess in mid-June and does not come back for full sessions until mid-September, but can be convened on an extraordinary basis during that time.

Ratas told ERR that: "At present we are working on the basis of there being two additional sessions on Wednesday - the first at 12.00 p.m., and the second to start two hours after the end of the first session."

The arrangement follows the applications from Finland and Sweden to join the alliance in May, in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine from February 24, and the completion of accession talks at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on Monday.

Whether the session goes ahead: "Depends on when the NAC (North Atlantic Council) makes a decision," Ratas said.

"We currently have information that the NAC can make a decision on July 5, i.e. tomorrow (today – ed.). If the NAC does this, the Estonian government and the Riigikogu must also make their decision; the session can be convened on the basis of a specific section of the law, and this option is available to either the president of the republic, the Government of the Republic, or at least one-fifth, or 21 MPs, from the Riigikogu," he added.

All 30 member states must unanimously ratify potential new member states' applications, which they do via a variety of different means depending on the country – for instance the U.S. must get a two-thirds majority in favor at the Senate; with some other countries, the executive makes the decision.

Three countries – Canada, Iceland and Norway – have already ratified Finnish and Swedish membership, though Turkey has so far disrupted the process somewhat as well; despite a memorandum signed between it and the two applicants at least week's Madrid Summit, Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is still demanding changes to domestic Finnish legislation to permit more leeway in the extradition of alleged terrorists to Turkey, principally those of Kurdish origin, and also the lifting of an arms embargo placed by both countries on Turkey – though by being member states this point would be moribund since member states cannot embargo arms trades between each other.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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