West News Wire: Finland’s NATO membership will be ratified by Turkey, according to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, allowing it to join the military alliance before Sweden.
Erdogan made the announcement on Friday following a meeting with Sauli Niinisto, the president of Finland, in Ankara. Finland cannot join NATO without Erdogan’s consent since all NATO members must agree in writing on new members.
With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland decided to end their long-standing policy of nonalignment and jointly submit their membership applications in Brussels in May.
The Turkish government criticized both nations for being too lenient toward organizations it refers to as “terrorist,” although it was more critical of Sweden.
“When it comes to fulfilling its pledges in the trilateral memorandum of understanding, we have seen that Finland has taken authentic and concrete steps,” Erdogan said at a news conference, referring to an agreement signed by Helsinki, Stockholm and Ankara in June to pave the way for the two Nordic countries to enter the military alliance.
“This sensitivity for our country’s security and, based on the progress that has been made in the protocol for Finland’s accession to NATO, we have decided to initiate the ratification process in our parliament,” the president said.
After Erdogan’s green light, Finland’s application may now go to the Turkish parliament, where the president’s party and its allies hold a majority. Ratification is expected before Turkey holds presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14.
Before his arrival on Thursday, Niinisto said Turkish officials had requested his presence in Ankara to announce Turkey’s decision on the Finnish bid.
He also stressed his support for Sweden’s swift admission and in a Twitter post said he had had a “good conversation” with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson prior to his trip to Turkey.
Kristersson said Sweden hopes for “a rapid ratification process” after Turkey’s elections.
United States National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also hailed the announcement, saying Washington “looks forward to the prompt conclusion of that process”.
He added the US encourages Turkey to “quickly ratify Sweden’s accession protocols as well”.
Meanwhile, he called on Hungary, where official approval has also been stalled, to conclude its ratification process “without delay”.
Turkey, Finland and Sweden signed their June agreement to resolve differences over the Nordic states’ membership.
The document included clauses addressing Ankara’s complaints that Stockholm and Helsinki did not take seriously enough its concerns with those it considers “terrorists,” particularly PKK supporters and individuals Ankara associates with a 2016 coup attempt and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has waged a 39-year armed campaign in Turkey.
But this year, Stockholm infuriated Erdogan by allowing a far-right politician to hold a rally outside the Turkish embassy, where the politician set fire to a Quran, the holy book of Muslims. Later, Erdogan declared that he would oppose the admission of nations who allow “blasphemy.”
You won’t get any support from us for NATO [membership] if you don’t respect Muslims’ or the Republic of Turkiye’s religious convictions, he warned.