Turkey's president says he will back Finland's NATO bid

Turkey's President Erdogan said he would support Finland’s NATO application, paving the way for the country to join the military bloc ahead of Sweden.
Posted at 11:15 AM, Mar 17, 2023

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that Turkey would move forward with ratifying Finland's NATO application, paving the way for the country to join the military bloc ahead of Sweden.

The breakthrough came as Finnish President Sauli Niinisto was in Ankara to meet with Erdogan and 10 months after both Finland and Swden applied to become NATO members in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, abandoning decades of nonalignment.

"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 told a news conference in Ankara following his meeting with Niinisto.

With Erdogan's agreement, Finland's application can now go to the Turkish parliament, where the president's party and its allies hold a majority. Ratification is expected before Turkey holds its presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for May 14.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

NATO chief: membership for Finland, Sweden 'top priority'

NATO chief Stoltenberg is urging Turkey and Hungary to urgently ratify accession, since NATO requires unanimous approval from its 30 existing members.


Erdogan suggested Wednesday that his country might take up Finland's accession following Niinisto's trip.

NATO requires the unanimous approval of its 30 existing members to expand, and Turkey and Hungary have failed so far to ratify the accession of the Nordic neighbors.

Turkey's government accuses Sweden of being too soft on groups that it deems to be terror organizations, including Kurdish groups, and has said it has fewer problems with Finland.

"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," Erdogan said Friday.

Turkey, Finland and Sweden signed an agreement in June last year to resolve differences over the Nordic states' membership.