Wednesday February 21, 2024

Turkey to start ratifying Finland's NATO bid: Erdogan

Published : 17 Mar 2023, 17:37

Updated : 18 Mar 2023, 00:40

  DF Report
President Sauli Niinistö met with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Friday. Photo: Finnish President Office by Riikka Hietajärvi.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said that his country will begin the process of ratifying Finland´s NATO accession protocol.

Speaking at a joint press conference after a meeting with President Sauli Niinistö, Erdogan said that Finland had fulfilled its responsibilities as per the tripartite deal agreed during a NATO summit in Madrid last summer.

Erdogan signed his decision to send the ratification of Finland’s NATO membership to the Parliament of Turkey.

He said that Turkey is a strong defender of NATO's open-door policy and Finland's membership will make NATO stronger.

The parliament will go into recess before mid-April, in the run-up to the country's presidential and parliament elections set for May 14, reported Xinhua.

The Turkish president said he hoped Finland's NATO bid could be finalized before the elections.

Niinistö welcomed the statement made by Erdogan, although it was expected that Turkey will make the ratification announcement on Friday in presence of the Finnish President.

"It is very good to hear this news. We understood earlier on that you had made the decision, and signing it today (Friday) confirms that the Turkish parliament will start the work of ratifying Finnish membership," Niinistö said at the press conference.

Niinistö also raised the issue of Sweden’s membership of NATO and stated that Finland’s membership of NATO is not complete without Sweden.

“I would like to see in Vilnius an alliance of 32 members,” he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Niinistö made his comment to Finnish media to disclose the reason behind his visit to Turkey where he described his expectation to get a clear announcement regarding the ratification of Finland´s NATO accession protocol.

“It was known that once President Erdoğan has for his part made the decision concerning the ratification of Finland’s NATO membership, he would wish to meet and fulfill his promise directly from President to President. The Turks have hoped that I be present when they announce this decision. Of course, I accepted the invitation and I will be there to receive his expression of will,” Niinistö told in his statement on Wednesday.

Earlier on March 9, a trilateral meeting between Finland, Sweden and Turkey held in Brussels failed to find out any significant progress regarding ratification of NATO accession protocols for Finland and Sweden.

In January this year Turkey postponed trilateral meeting with Finland, Sweden on their NATO bids following the burning of a copy of the Quran in Sweden.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on February 1 said, Turkey will not approve Sweden's bid to join NATO as long as it continues to allow Quran-burning protests, adding his country looks positively on Finland's application for membership.

Turkey is demanding concrete Finnish and Swedish actions to address Turkish security concerns over extraditing hostile groups members before it unblocks their accession into NATO.

Another country Hungary did not ratify the membership yet, although Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on November 2 assured President Sauli Niinistö that his country will ratify Finland´s NATO accession protocol.

Finland and Sweden submitted the NATO membership applications in May.

Their accession procedure officially started in early July after 30 NATO members, including Turkey signed accession protocols.

So far 28 countries out of total 30 ratified the NATO accession protocols for Finland and Sweden.

The countries ratified the membership protocols are USA, Italy, Canada, Estonia, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, United Kingdom, Albania, Poland, Latvia, Slovenia, Croatia, The Netherlands, Luxemburg, Bulgaria, Germany, Romania, Lithuania, Montenegro, Belgium, North Macedonia, France, Czech Republic, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Slovakia.

In late June, the Foreign Ministers of Finland, Sweden and Turkey signed a trilateral memorandum which confirms that Turkey will support the Finland´s and Sweden´s NATO membership applications.