Finland expects Trkiye to give the green light to its application later this week, but Sweden’s fate remains uncertain
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said on Wednesday he expects a positive response on Helsinki’s membership of the US-led military bloc when he meets his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan later this week.
Niinisto is scheduled to arrive in Turkey on Thursday and tour the regions affected by the February earthquakes that claimed nearly 50,000 lives. He is meeting with Erdogan in Istanbul on Friday, to personally hear the Turkish president’s decision.
Asked on Tuesday if Türkiye would give the green light to Finland’s application, Erdogan replied: “God willing, if it’s for the best.”
Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO last year, following the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine. All 30 members of the bloc must ratify its adoption. However, Stockholm’s application has been put on hold by Ankara due to outstanding issues involving Kurdish activists – whom Türkiye considers terrorists – shelter in Sweden, an arms embargo and religious provocations.
Although the NATO leadership wanted to allow both Scandinavian countries together, last month Finland signaled it was ready to move forward on its own. Sweden reluctantly accepted the course of events, hoping that the problems with Türkiye would be resolved.
On a visit to Germany on Tuesday, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said he hoped Ankara would ratify his country’s application after the Turkish general election, which is scheduled for mid-May.
Helsinki and Stockholm’s Nato push also caught on in Hungary, which was set to ratify their applications this week. However, the government has postponed the parliamentary session, citing “a delay in negotiations with Brussels”. The EU has set out a set of political demands it says Budapest must meet before the funds earmarked for Hungary can be released.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has accused fellow EU members Finland and Sweden of spreading “outright lies” about the state of democracy and the rule of law in his country. The ruling Fidesz party has said it would make a decision on the NATO application when the parliamentary delegation that visited Sweden and Finland reports its findings.