Posted by on March 17, 2023 8:46 pm
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Finland, but not Sweden, step closer to joining NATO

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The Big Story 

Finland, but not Sweden, takes step closer to joining NATO

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

© Greg Nash, The Hill

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.


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