Turkey announced on Friday that it would move to ratify Finland’s application to join Nato, clearing a significant hurdle for the Nordic nation’s bid to join the alliance but leaving neighbouring Sweden on the sidelines for now.
“We decided to start the ratification process in our Parliament for Finland’s membership,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey told a news conference.
The announcement came as Finland’s president, Sauli Niinisto, met in Ankara with Erdogan. The leaders had both telegraphed that the announcement was coming, with Erdogan saying this week that Turkey would “keep our promise”.
Turkey’s parliament must ratify Finland’s membership in the alliance, which requires unanimous approval from the 30 nations in the bloc. Hungary is the only other country whose parliament has not ratified the bids by Finland or Sweden.
With elections in Finland on April 2, the country’s current government decided to pass all necessary legislation to join Nato in order to prevent any period of uncertainty while a new government is formed. So the only votes outstanding rest with the Turkish and Hungarian parliaments.
Finland and Sweden were spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to drop their traditional military non-alignment and seek expedited membership in Nato.
The two Nordic nations had pledged to enter the alliance “hand in hand”, but Erdogan has held up Sweden’s application, creating the possibility that Finland could join without its neighbour.
Erdogan has argued that Sweden must take a tougher approach against Kurdish rebels it considers terrorists. The Turkish leader faces a tough election battle in mid-May with a ropy economy and high inflation, as well as criticism about his government’s handling of the recent devastating earthquake.
New York Times News Service