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Erdogan gives Finland the green light to join NATO

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to approve Finland's planned NATO membership.

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Erdogan gives Finland the green light to join NATO

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to approve Finland's planned NATO membership. The ratification process will be initiated in parliament, Erdogan said in Ankara on Friday. Erdogan has thus given up his blockade against NATO's northern expansion, at least in part.

Unlike Finland, Sweden will have to wait for approval from Ankara. We will still have to think about Sweden, said Erdogan after a meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. He said Finland's membership would not be complete without Sweden's.

The Turkish parliament could thus ratify Finland's accession protocol by mid-April, when it will stop working before the Turkish parliamentary elections on May 14. So far, only the approvals from Turkey and Hungary are missing for the accession.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland decided last year to apply for NATO membership after a long period of military non-alignment. 28 of the 30 current alliance members have long since ratified the accession, and in Hungary a parliamentary vote is expected soon.

Turkey, on the other hand, has been blocking dual accession for months. Their objections are primarily aimed at Sweden, which they accuse of lacking action against "terrorist organizations". Ankara is primarily concerned with the banned Kurdish Workers' Party PKK.

Since submitting the application in May 2022, Sweden and Finland have repeatedly emphasized that they want to be admitted to NATO at the same time and "hand in hand". The Turkish blockade, which intensified after several Islamophobic protests in Stockholm at the beginning of the year, made this parallel step more complicated. It has therefore been rumored for some time that Turkey would first agree to Finland joining NATO and that Sweden could then follow suit at a later date.

The fact that Erdogan would let Finland go first and Sweden wait was something people in northern Europe had been counting on more and more recently. During a visit to Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) on Wednesday, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson confirmed that his country was also prepared for this possibility - even if he would still prefer joint accession with Finland. Scholz emphasized that Germany wanted to see the two Nordic countries in NATO quickly.

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