Türkiye OKs Finland’s NATO bid, delays Sweden’s

Türkiye OKs Finland’s NATO bid, delays Sweden’s

Türkiye OKs Finland’s NATO bid, delays Sweden’s

Türkiye has announced its decision to ratify Finland’s bid to join NATO as a result of the latter’s concrete and sincere measures against terror organizations while delaying the bid of Sweden.

“We have observed concrete and sincere steps from Finland in recent times. As a result of Finland’s sensitivities towards our legitimate security concerns, we have decided to start the approval process of its accession,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at a press conference with visiting Finnish President Sauli Niinistö on March 17 in Ankara.

“I hope this decision will be in the best interest of our countries as well as our alliance,” Erdoğan said, underlining that Türkiye has always been supporting NATO’s open door policy.

“With Finland’s admission, I believe NATO will further strengthen and play a crucial role in global security,” he said. For his part, Niinistö welcomed the news and thanked Erdoğan for the decision, saying, “This is a very important move for all the people of Finland.”

Recalling Sweden’s application to the alliance, the Finnish president said, “Finland’s membership to NATO will only be accomplished with the admission of Sweden. Because we have joint security interests. We have borders in the Baltic Sea. I hope we will be an alliance with 32 members at the Vilnius Summit,” referring to the NATO’s leaders’ summit to be held in mid-July.

Erdoğan, in response to a question on Sweden, accused Stockholm of continuing to harbor the terrorists and allowing anti-Türkiye protests by the terrorists in the streets of the capital city. “I told [Swedish] Prime Minister that we want the extradition of 120 terrorists. The prime minister is a good man, but he could not do it. That’s why it is not possible for us to approach positively,” he stressed.

Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO in May 2022 following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Upon Türkiye’s security concerns stemming from the fact that both Nordic states were tolerant of the activities of the terror organizations, such as the PKK and FETÖ, on their soils, a trilateral agreement was signed on June 28, 2022.

The agreement stipulates Finland and Sweden take concrete actions against the terrorists by restricting their propaganda activities, money raising as well extraditing terror convicts to Türkiye. Ankara suggested from the very first day that Stockholm has a long way to go because of the intensity of terrorist activities there.

The three countries held three meetings since last year to assess to what extent Sweden and Finland fulfilled the commitments. In January, protests targeting Erdoğan and the burning of the Quran in front of the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm did an additional burden on Sweden’s accession process, with the belief that its approval from the Turkish Parliament will have to wait a couple of months more.

Sweden will start to implement a new anti-terror bill on June 1 and it hopes to join the alliance before the NATO leaders’ summit to take place in Lithunia’s Vilnius on July 11 and 12.