Turkey's President approves Finland's NATO bid, US "encourages" Ankara to ratify Sweden's quickly

Turkey's President approves Finland's NATO bid, US "encourages" Ankara to ratify Sweden's quickly
Credit: Belga

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday gave the green light for Finland’s NATO membership and submitted the ratification of its membership application to the Turkish parliament, a decision immediately welcomed by the Atlantic Alliance.

“When it comes to fulfilling its pledges in the trilateral memorandum of understanding, we have seen that Finland has taken authentic and concrete steps,” Erdogan said at a press conference after a meeting with visiting Finnish President Sauli Niinistö.

“Based on the progress that has been made in the protocol for Finland’s accession to NATO, we have decided to initiate the ratification process in our parliament,” he added.

Erdogan's 'yes' moves Finland a step closer to 29 ratifications out of 30

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Erdogan’s announcement, noting that the important thing was that Finland and Sweden quickly become full members of Nato, not that they join at exactly the same time.

The Turkish president’s green light brings Finland a step closer to joining the Alliance, 28 of whose 30 Member States having already approved its application.

Hungary also needs to ratify both membership bids, submitted jointly last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The bids require unanimous approval.

Erdogan, who received his Finnish counterpart on Friday, had been blocking the Nordic country’s entry into the Atlantic Alliance since May 2022, but he has been even more adamant in his opposition to the bid by its Swedish neighbour.

Turkey accuses Stockholm of passivity in the face of Kurdish “terrorists” who have taken refuge in Sweden, demanding extraditions, on which the government does not have the last word.

"Finland's bid is not complete without Sweden's

While the Turkish head of state continues to block the Swedish application, he acknowledged the “concrete steps” taken by Finland in recent months. “I hope that (ratification) will take place before the elections,” he said at the press conference with his Finnish counterpart.

Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for 14 May, but the Turkish parliament is expected to go into recess about a month before then.

“We hope the (Turkish) parliament will have time,” the Finnish president said, calling the process “very important for Finland.”

Finland, which was forced into neutrality by Moscow after its war with the Soviet Union in World War II, shares a 1,340 km-long border with Russia. Niinistö said “Finland’s bid is not complete without Sweden’s.”

Things are much more complicated for Sweden, which continues to be the focus of Ankara’s objections. “There have been no positive steps taken by Sweden with regard to the terrorist list,” Erdogan lamented again on Friday, referring to more than 120 extradition requests made by Ankara.

Latest News

Copyright © 2021 The Brussels Times. All Rights Reserved.