The Turkish president said parliament will approve Finland’s membership bid, while Sweden remains in limbo
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that his country’s parliament will ratify Finland’s application to join the NATO bloc. Before Finland and Sweden could join the alliance, Türkiye demanded that the Nordic nations act against alleged Kurdish terrorists.
“We have decided to initiate the protocol of Finland’s accession to NATO in our parliament,” Erdogan told reporters after meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in Ankara. “When it comes to fulfilling its commitments in the Trilateral Memorandum of Understanding, we have seen Finland take authentic and concrete steps.” added the Turkish leader.
Finland and Sweden renounced their neutrality and applied to join the US-led bloc last May in response to Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. However, joining NATO requires the unanimous consent of all existing members, and Erdogan demanded that the two applicants lift the arms embargo on Türkiye, extradite alleged Kurdish and Gülenist terrorists and investigate the activities of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) within their borders. .
Finland and Sweden agreed to these demands in a trilateral memorandum signed last June. However, Ankara has accused Stockholm of keeping its promises. Swedish authorities deny the allegations, but Erdogan is still unconvinced, and the Swedish authorities’ refusal to stop a recent protest against the burning of the Koran has further fueled tensions.
Sweden’s chances of joining NATO, he said on Friday, “will be directly linked to the concrete steps Sweden will take” in the “fight against terrorism.”
Although Sweden and Finland initially said they would join NATO “hand in hand,” both nations have since admitted they are likely to join separately. “It is not excluded that Sweden and Finland will ratify in different steps.” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told reporters earlier this week.
After Friday’s meeting, Niinisto said his own country’s membership offer would not be accepted “complete without Sweden,” adding that the two states “have so much common interest, being neighbors in the Baltic Sea area.”
Except for Türkiye, all current NATO members, with the exception of Hungary, have ratified the applications from Sweden and Finland. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said he favors both states joining the alliance, but also accused politicians in Stockholm and Helsinki of “spread blatant lies” about his Conservative government.