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Turkey to ratify Finland's NATO bid but not Sweden’s, Erdogan says

CA, 18 Mar 2023
President Tayyip Erdoğan said on Friday that Turkey's parliament will begin ratifying Finland's NATO bid, but not that of Sweden, removing the biggest remaining hurdle to enlarging the Western defence alliance as the war continues to rage in Ukraine.

Speaking in Ankara alongside Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinistö, Erdogan said Helsinki won Turkey's blessing after taking concrete steps to keep its promises to crack down on what it sees as terrorists and to free up defence exports. Ankara will continue discussions with Stockholm on terrorism-related issues and Sweden's NATO membership bid would depend directly on measures taken, he added.

Niinistö said he welcomed the decision and called it "very important" for Finland, which shares a long border with Russia. He also said that "I have a feeling that Finnish NATO membership is not complete without Sweden, as we have so much common interest."

In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland applied last year to join the trans-Atlantic pact but faced unexpected objections from Turkey. Apart from Hungary, whose ruling party has said it backs the two Nordic bids but has delayed steps, Turkey is the only NATO member not yet to have given both Finland and Sweden its green light.

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