Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has agreed to lift his veto on Finland’s application to join Transatlantic military alliance, NATO.
After Russia invaded Ukraine, Finland, which shares an 832-mile border with Russia, was forced to reconsider its foreign and security policy of military neutrality and apply for NATO membership. If Finland joins, it would be the 31st member of the alliance.
The move will surely strengthen the west’s ability to retaliate against any future Russian threat across the Baltic Sea.
After a meeting with the Finnish president, Sauli Niinistö, in Ankara on Friday, March 17, Erdoğan said he would recommend to the Turkish parliament that it vote to back Finland’s application to join. He said he hoped the vote would happen before the Turkish elections in May.
On Friday, Erdoğan said Turkey’s concerns about Kurdish terrorist activity in Finland had been addressed.
“Turkey is one of the strong defenders of Nato’s open-door policy,” he said. Finland had taken “concrete and authentic steps” to meet Turkey’s security concerns, and “with Finland’s membership Nato will become stronger”.
Niinistö said to Erdoğan: “Now we have got an answer, thank you,” but he added: “Finnish Nato membership is not complete without Sweden.” He expressed the hope that both countries would be permitted to join Nato at its summit in Vilnius in July.
For months, Erdoğan demanded that Finland and Sweden do more to clamp down on Kurdish activists.
Erdoğan has been seeking assurances from Finland and Sweden to eradicate members of the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), an organisation designated as terrorist by the European Union. He said there should be “no place for any terror group no matter what their name or aim”.
Hungary is now the only other NATO member still to approve Finland’s membership, and it is expected to relent next week rather than be left isolated within the alliance.