Turkey drops opposition to Finland’s bid to join Nato
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his government will move forward with ratifying Finland’s Nato application, paving the way for the country to join the military bloc ahead of Sweden.
The breakthrough came as he met his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinistö, in Ankara this week.
Both Finland and Sweden applied to join Nato in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, abandoning decades of nonalignment. Nato requires the unanimous approval of its 30 members to expand.
The Turkish government had accused both Sweden and Finland of being too soft on groups that it deems to be terror organisations but expressed more reservations about Sweden.
“When it comes to fulfilling its pledges in the trilateral memorandum of understanding, we have seen that Finland has taken authentic and concrete steps,” Mr Erdogan told a news conference in Ankara following his meeting with his Finnish counterpart.
“This sensitivity for our country’s security and, 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,“ the president added.
Finland’s application can now go to the Turkish parliament, where the president’s party and its allies hold a majority.
Ratification is expected before Turkey holds its presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for May 14.
Commenting on Turkey’s willingness to consider ratifying Sweden’s accession to Nato, Mr Erdogan said it would “depend on the solid steps Sweden will take.”
Explaining the difference between the Nordic countries, he claimed that Sweden had “embraced terrorism,” citing demonstrations by supporters of Kurdish militants on the streets of Stockholm.
“Such demonstrations do not take place in Finland,” he said. “For that reason we had to consider (Finland) separately from Sweden.”