News Europe Recep Tayyip Erdogan gives green light for Finland to join NATO

Recep Tayyip Erdogan gives green light for Finland to join NATO

Published on : 03/17/2023 – 19:45

“We have decided to start the process of Finland joining NATO in our parliament,” said Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a meeting in Ankara with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. But the Turkish leader only partially lifts his veto against the enlargement of the Atlantic Alliance: Sweden will have to continue to wait.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday gave the green light to Finland’s entry into NATO, submitting to the Turkish parliament the ratification of Finland’s application for membership. A decision immediately welcomed by the Atlantic Alliance.

“We have decided to start the process of Finland joining NATO in our parliament,” he said after a meeting in Ankara with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinistö.

The announcement of the Turkish president opens the way a little more for the entry of the Nordic country into the Alliance, twenty-eight of its thirty member states having already approved its candidacy. In the context of the war in Ukraine, the announcement is strategic: Finland, subject to forced neutrality by Moscow at the end of its armed conflict with the Soviet Union – during the Second World War –, shares the longest European border with Russia, behind Ukraine (1,340 km).

Hungary must also ratify Finnish and Swedish membership applications, submitted jointly last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These nominations require unanimous approval. After the Turkish green light, the Hungarian government spokesman announced on Friday that the Hungarian Parliament will vote on Finnish membership on March 27.

“Very important for Finland”

“We hope that the (Turkish) Parliament will have the time”, declared for his part the Finnish president, judging the process of entry into NATO “very important for Finland”.

“I hope that (the ratification) will take place before the elections,” replied Turkish President Erdogan. Turkey’s presidential and legislative elections are scheduled for May 14, but the Turkish parliament is expected to suspend its work about a month before the double ballot.

The Finnish President however, felt that “Finland’s candidacy is not complete without Sweden’s”.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg for his part “welcomed” the announcement made by Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He judged that “the most important thing is that Finland and Sweden quickly become full members of NATO, and not that they join exactly at the same time”.

The Swedish case

Recep Tayyip Erdogan Blocked since May 2022 the entry into the Atlantic Alliance of the Nordic country and, even more, of its Swedish neighbor. The situation is therefore more delicate for Sweden, which is still facing objections from Ankara.

Turkey notably accuses Stockholm of passivity in the face of Kurdish “terrorists” who have taken refuge in Sweden, demanding extraditions on which the government does not have the last word.

The Turkish head of state, who continues to block the Swedish candidacy, acknowledged the “concrete measures” taken by Finland in recent months, but “no positive measures taken by Sweden with regard to the list of terrorists”, he lamented on Friday, referring to more than 120 extradition requests made by Ankara.

>> To read: NATO: who are the “terrorists” claimed by Turkey from Finland and Sweden?

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström later regretted that his country was still waiting for the green light from Turkey, saying however that Sweden was “prepared” for Finland to get it before it.

The burning of a Koran by an extremist in the Swedish capital in January led to the suspension of talks between Ankara, Helsinki and Stockholm. The Turkish president then hinted that Turkey was ready to ratify Finland’s membership separately, although the two countries originally wanted to move forward “hand in hand”.

>> See also: Finland and Sweden join NATO: the two countries will remain united

On Tuesday, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson acknowledged that the likelihood of his neighbor joining NATO before Sweden had “increased” lately. However, the Swedish Prime Minister still hopes to complete his country’s entry into the Alliance before the next NATO summit scheduled for July in Vilnius, Lithuania.

With AFP

Source: France 24

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