International

Erdo?an says Turkish parliament will ratify Finland’s application to join NATO

Turkish Presidency via The Associated Press
In this handout photo released by Turkish presidency, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan talks after a cabinet meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Jan. 23, 2023.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said his nation’s parliament will ratify Finland’s application to the Western security alliance NATO in an agreement that for now would leave out fellow Nordic applicant Sweden.

Erdoğan announced the news at a press conference in Ankara on Friday with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö after the two leaders met for bilateral talks in the Turkish capital.

“When it comes to fulfilling its pledges in the trilateral memorandum of understanding, we have seen that Finland has taken authentic and concrete steps,” the Turkish leader said.

Niinistö said the decision for Turkey to approve his nation’s bid to join NATO was a “hopeful” sign as Russia wages a war in Europe, but also pushed for the approval of Sweden as well.

“It’s not complete without Sweden,” the Finnish president said. “We have so much common interest, being neighbors in the Baltic Sea area.”

Erdoğan’s party holds a majority in the Turkish Parliament, and ratification for Finland is expected before presidential elections on May 14.

Turkey will join 28 other nations that have already announced they will ratify Finland’s bid to join the security alliance, which requires approval from all 30 members.

Hungary has yet to approve the application for either Finland and Sweden.

Erdoğan has expressed deep opposition to ratifying Sweden over concerns that the Nordic nation has supported what he calls terrorist organizations, particularly a Kurdish separatist movement that has been fighting Turkey for decades.

“Although we welcome today’s decision made by Türkiye to formally ratify Finland’s accession protocol, Türkiye’s decision to decouple Finland’s NATO bid from Sweden is disappointing and unnecessary,” Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), co-chairs of the bipartisan Senate NATO Observer Group, said in a statement.

“We call on Hungary and Türkiye to fulfill their obligations to the transatlantic family and vote on both accession protocols without further delay,” the lawmakers added.

Sweden and Finland, the latter of which borders Russia, both moved to join NATO last spring, shortly after Moscow invaded Ukraine.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Updated at 11:54 a.m.

Tags Ankara Finland NATO Recep Tayyip Erdogan Recep Tayyip Erdo?an Sauli Niinist? Sauli Ninnisto Turkey

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