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Turkey Supports Finland's NATO Membership, Delays Sweden's Bid

President Tayyip Erdogan announced on Friday that Turkey's parliament would begin ratifying Finland's NATO bid while Sweden's application remains pending. This decision removes a significant obstacle to enlarging the Western defense alliance amidst the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Finland's Commitments Secure Turkey's Support

According to Erdogan, Turkey endorsed Finland's NATO application after Helsinki demonstrated concrete steps to address Ankara's concerns about terrorism and defense exports. In contrast, Sweden's membership will depend on further discussions and actions related to terrorism-related issues.

NATO Enlargement Process

All 30 member parliaments must ratify the newcomer for a country to join NATO. Finland's accession would mark the first enlargement since North Macedonia became part of the trans-Atlantic alliance in 2020.

Timeline for Finland's NATO Accession

Erdogan hopes the Turkish parliament will endorse Finland's NATO bid before the May 14 elections. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto welcomed the decision, emphasizing the importance of Sweden joining the alliance.

Turkey's Objections to Sweden's NATO Bid

Turkey objected to Sweden's NATO application, accusing Stockholm of harboring members of the Kurdish militant group PKK, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization. Sweden denies these charges.

Flags of Finland, Sweden, and Turkey
Flags of Finland, Sweden, and Turkey

Deal Between Nordic Countries and Turkey

Sweden, Finland, and Turkey agreed last year to address Turkish concerns. However, talks were suspended in January after a far-right politician burned a copy of the Koran in Stockholm. Lower-level discussions resumed in Brussels recently.

NATO Summit and Turkey's Changing Stance

Washington and other NATO members hope that both Finland and Sweden will join the alliance at the upcoming NATO summit scheduled for July 11 in Vilnius. Erdogan supports Finland's bid following his previous threat to veto both applications.

Impact on Western Diplomats and Investors

Western diplomats and investors could welcome the anticipated approval of Finland's NATO membership, eager to see Turkey strengthen its relationship with traditional Western allies.