Turkey finally agrees to ratify Finland’s NATO candidacy
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has agreed to lift his veto on Finland’s request to join the transatlantic military alliance, NATO.
After Russia invaded Ukraine, Finland, which shares an 832-mile border with Russia, was forced to reconsider its foreign and security policy of military neutrality and seek NATO membership. If Finland joins, it will be the 31st member of the alliance.
This move will surely bolster the West’s ability to retaliate against any future Russian threats across the Baltic Sea.
After a meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö in Ankara on Friday March 17, Erdoğan said he would recommend the Turkish parliament to vote in favor of Finland’s membership application. He said he hoped the vote would take place before the Turkish elections in May.
On Friday, Erdoğan said Turkey’s concerns about Kurdish terrorist activity in Finland had been taken into account.
“Turkey is one of the staunch supporters of NATO’s open-door policy,” he said. Finland has taken “concrete and genuine steps” to address Turkey’s security concerns, and “with Finland’s membership, NATO will become stronger”.
Niinistö told Erdoğan: “Now we have an answer, thank you,” but added: “Finland’s NATO membership is not complete without Sweden. He expressed hope that the two countries would be allowed to join NATO at its summit in Vilnius in July.
For months, Erdoğan demanded that Finland and Sweden do more to suppress Kurdish militants.
Erdoğan asked for assurances from Finland and Sweden to eradicate members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an organization designated as terrorist by the European Union. He said there should be “no place for any terrorist group, whatever its name or purpose”.
Hungary is now the only other NATO member yet to approve Finland’s membership, and it is expected to relent next week rather than remain isolated within the alliance.