(Ankara) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday gave the green light to Finland’s entry into NATO, submitting to the Turkish parliament the ratification of Finland’s application for membership.
“We have decided to start Finland’s NATO membership process in our parliament,” he said after meeting in Ankara with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. Twenty-eight of the Alliance’s 30 member states have already endorsed Finland’s candidacy.
Mr. Niinistö, whose country has been knocking on the door of NATO for ten months, was going in the hope of obtaining a green light for its entry into the Atlantic Alliance.
Niinistö assured Wednesday that Turkey, a NATO member for half a century, would announce its decision on Finland’s membership application on Friday.
“I will go [to Ankara] to receive an expression of their intentions,” he said in a statement.
The Turkish president, who has blocked Finland and Sweden from entering since May 2022, hinted earlier on Wednesday that he would respond favorably to the “promise” given in Helsinki to join the Alliance.
“On Friday we will meet the [Finnish] president and do what our promise entails,” Erdogan said.
The meeting between Messrs. Erdogan and Niinistö, who traveled Thursday to the Turkish province of Kahramanmaras, the epicenter of the devastating February 6 earthquake, was due to start around 2:30 p.m. (7:30 a.m. Eastern Time).
If Mr. Erdogan has given his blank check, it will be up to the Turkish Parliament to ratify Finland’s application for membership of the Atlantic Alliance, submitted jointly with Sweden last year as a result of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
Finland shares over 1300 km of land border with Russia.
The date of the vote of the Turkish Parliament is not known, the question remains whether it will take place before or after the Turkish presidential and legislative elections on May 14.
The Turkish Parliament is expected to suspend its work about a month before the double ballot.
Even if Hungary must also ratify Finland’s application for membership, a Turkish green light would pave the way for Finland’s entry into NATO.
The other 28 member states of the Alliance have ratified the membership application of the two Nordic countries, which must be approved unanimously.
Turkey notably accuses Stockholm of passivity in the face of Kurdish “terrorists” who have taken refuge in Sweden. And the burning of a copy of the Koran in Sweden in January had ended the process.
The Turkish president then hinted, on January 29, that Finland could join the alliance on its own.
On Tuesday, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson also acknowledged that the likelihood of his neighbor joining NATO before Sweden has “increased” lately.
Mr. Kristersson, however, remains hopeful of completing his country’s entry into the Alliance before the next NATO summit scheduled for July in Vilnius, Lithuania.