The Turkish president said parliament will approve Finland’s membership application, 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, Trkiye demanded that the Nordic nations crack down on alleged Kurdish terrorists.
“We have decided to start the protocol on Finland’s accession to NATO in our Riksdag.” Erdogan told reporters after a meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in Ankara. “When it comes to fulfilling its promises in the Trilateral Memorandum of Understanding, we have seen that Finland has taken 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. Joining NATO, however, requires the unanimous consent of all existing members, and Erdogan demanded that the two applicants lift an arms embargo on Trkiye, extradite alleged Kurdish and Gulenist 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 remains unconvinced, and the Swedish authorities’ refusal to stop a recent fiery Koran protest raised tensions further.
Sweden’s chances of entering NATO, he said on Friday, “will be directly linked to the concrete steps that Sweden will take” in “fighting 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 stages.” Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told reporters earlier this week.
After Friday’s meeting, Niinisto said his own country’s membership application would not be “completely without Sweden” adding that the two states “have so much common interest, being neighbors in the Baltic Sea area.”
Apart from Trkiye, all current NATO members with the exception of Hungary have ratified Sweden’s and Finland’s applications. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said he is in favor of both states joining the alliance, but has also accused politicians in Stockholm and Helsinki of “spreading blatant lies” about his conservative government.