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Finland is trying to get Turkey’s approval for NATO

ANKARA: Finland’s leader arrived in Ankara on Friday to receive Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s verdict on his Nordic country’s stalled effort to join the NATO defense bloc.

Finland and its neighbor Sweden ended decades of military non-alignment and opted to join the US-led defense alliance after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Their candidatures were accepted at a NATO summit in June, which signaled the Western world’s desire to stand up to Russia in the face of Europe’s worst conflict since World War II.

But this summit was just a declaration of intent.

The bids still had to be ratified by all 30 parliaments of the alliance members – a process that stalled when it was the turn of Turkey and Hungary.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Erdogan are scheduled to hold talks and have a working lunch before meeting with reporters later on Friday.

“We will do our part, we will keep our promise,” Erdogan said when asked about Finland’s bid this week.

Turkey’s leader has accused its northern neighbors of violating the terms of a separate deal they reached in June 2022, in which Turkey agreed to approve the bids.

Turkey has requested the extradition of dozens of Kurdish and other suspects whom it alleges have links to outlaw militants and a failed 2016 coup attempt.

Erdogan’s demands became more pressing as he neared May’s elections, where he will need a strong turnout from his nationalist supporters to extend his two-decade rule.

The Turkish leader expressed particular dissatisfaction with Sweden – a country with a larger Kurdish diaspora and a longer history of disputes with Ankara.

Erdogan announced in January that he was pleased with Finland’s progress and ready to submit ratification to parliament.

NATO had hoped to officially welcome both countries at another summit planned for July in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius.

Swedish delay

Finland and Sweden initially resisted splitting their bids.

But Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson conceded on Tuesday that the likelihood of Finland alone joining NATO had “increased”.

Finnish President Niinisto then said on Wednesday that he had been invited to Turkey by Erdogan to personally “get the answer when they announce the decision” about NATO.

Analysts agree that Erdogan is almost certain to announce that he will submit Finland’s ratification to parliament.

“The big question is whether this will happen before or after Turkey’s elections,” Henri Vanhanen, a research fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, told AFP.

Turkey’s parliament is expected to close about a month before the May 14 vote.

“I would rather believe that this will happen before the Turkish elections,” said Vanhanen.

“Of course, it is quite clear that presidential visits of this level are not usually organized unless concrete progress is expected or achieved.”

The talks in Ankara increased pressure on the Hungarian parliament to end its own ratification delays.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and has numerous disputes with both NATO and the European Union.

The Hungarian parliament began debating the two NATO bids earlier this month.

But Orban’s ruling party said Tuesday it will not meet next week because separate negotiations with Brussels over EU funding have collapsed.

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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