Turkey to approve Finland's NATO membership

Turkey was preparing Thursday evening to become the last member of NATO to ratify the accession of Finland after an expected vote in Parliament

Turkey to approve Finland's NATO membership

Turkey was preparing Thursday evening to become the last member of NATO to ratify the accession of Finland after an expected vote in Parliament.

The entry of this small Nordic country into the Atlantic Alliance was to be approved in the evening after the examination of several bills submitted to the deputies, according to the AFP journalist on the spot.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave the green light in mid-March to Finland's entry into NATO, after ten months of blockage by submitting the ratification text to deputies, a decision immediately welcomed by the Atlantic Alliance.

"We have decided to start the process of Finland joining NATO in our parliament," Erdogan said after a meeting in Ankara with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö.

The ratification is a priori no doubt, the Turkish parliamentary committee for Foreign Affairs having approved it last week.

Turkey is the last country to do so after ratification by the Hungarian parliament on Monday, but on the other hand, like Budapest, it leaves Sweden at NATO's doorstep.

However, Finnish and Swedish membership applications were submitted jointly last year following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Both require unanimous approval by the thirty member states of NATO.

The Finnish president had affirmed his "hope" for a ratification before the Turkish presidential and legislative elections scheduled for May 14, the Turkish Parliament having to interrupt its work about a month before the holding of the double ballot.

Mr. Erdogan had been blocking since May 2022 the entry into the Atlantic Alliance of Finland and, even more, of its Swedish neighbor.

Turkey notably accuses Stockholm of passivity in the face of Kurdish "terrorists" who have taken refuge in Sweden, demanding extraditions on which the government does not have the last word.

-Menaces du Kremlin-

Finland, subject to forced neutrality by Moscow after its war with the Soviet Union during the Second World War, shares the longest European border (1,340 km) with Russia, behind Ukraine.

The Kremlin, which at first seemed to play down the importance of the candidacies of Finland and Sweden, has hardened its tone in recent weeks, estimating on Tuesday that the two countries would, once admitted into NATO, become "legitimate targets" of "reprisals from Moscow", including "military".

Sweden had, in the wake of Wednesday, announced the summons of the Russian ambassador to Stockholm.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also said last week that Moscow would deploy "tactical" nuclear weapons on the territory of its ally, Belarus, located at the gates of the European Union.

The situation remains delicate for Sweden, which continues to face objections from Ankara.

"There has been no positive action taken by Sweden with regard to the list of terrorists," Erdogan lamented, referring to more than 120 extradition requests made by Ankara.

The burning of a copy of the Koran by an extremist in the Swedish capital in January led to the suspension of talks between Ankara, Helsinki and Stockholm.

The Turkish president then hinted that Turkey was ready to approve Finland's membership separately, although the two countries originally wanted to move forward "hand in hand".

However, Stockholm hopes to complete its country's entry into the Alliance before the next NATO summit scheduled for July in Vilnius, Lithuania.

30/03/2023 20:44:47 --        Ankara (AFP)           © 2023 AFP