Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed that his country has taken steps to ratify Finland’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
“I wish Finland’s accession to NATO will be finally approved before the elections,” Erdogan said on Friday.
In parallel, the Turkish president made it clear that Ankara had provided Sweden with a list of wanted persons, indicating that it must hand them over so that his country’s position would be positive regarding its accession to NATO.
In turn, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Turkey’s decision to give the green light to Finland’s accession to NATO, and said that Sweden should also be allowed to join the alliance “as soon as possible.”
“The most important thing is that Finland and Sweden become NATO members quickly, not that they join at exactly the same time,” Stoltenberg said.
The Turkish president gave the green light to Finland’s accession to NATO, leaving the Turkish parliament the task of ratifying the Finnish request.
“We decided to start the protocol of Finland’s accession to NATO in our parliament,” he said at the end of a meeting in Ankara with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto. And 28 countries out of 30 members of the coalition have already agreed to Finland’s candidacy.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, whose country has been seeking to join NATO for ten months, met his Turkish counterpart on Friday in Ankara, in an attempt to obtain Turkish approval for Helsinki to enter the defense alliance.
On Wednesday, Niinisto said Turkey had reached a decision on the ratification of Finland’s application to join NATO.
“The Turks hope that I will be there to receive a response when they announce the decision. Of course I accepted the invitation,” Niinisto said in a statement.
Erdogan hinted at Turkey’s acceptance of Finland’s request earlier Wednesday and said, “We will do our part and fulfill the promise we made,” telling reporters, “Friday, we will meet the (Finnish) president and we will fulfill the requirements of our promise.”
The date of the vote in the Turkish parliament is unknown, and the question remains whether it will take place before or after the Turkish presidential and legislative elections scheduled for May 14.
The Turkish parliament will have to suspend its work for about a month before the elections.
Finland, Sweden and Turkey signed a tripartite agreement at a NATO summit in Madrid in June, and Turkey has repeatedly expressed its displeasure at what it perceives as Sweden’s failure to live up to its commitments while noting that it is satisfied with Finland’s progress.
For his part, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Christerson acknowledged on Tuesday that the chances of Finland joining NATO before Sweden had risen, especially because of Turkey’s objection to Stockholm’s membership.
“I will continue my work to support Sweden’s membership in NATO,” Niinisto said, adding that he had discussed the matter with Kristerson.