Turkish parliamentary committee approves Finland’s NATO bid
The general assembly of the Turkish Parliament is set to ratify Finland’s NATO membership after a parliamentary committee approved the Nordic country’s accession protocol late Thursday.
The parliament’s foreign affairs committee unanimously approved the protocol relating to Finland’s accession to the alliance.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the start of Finland’s ratification process during the visit of Finnish President Sauli Niinisto to Ankara last week. He called on parliament to ratify quickly before the May 14 elections.
The committee will now submit its decision to the General Assembly, which is expected to discuss and ratify the protocol before mid-April, when parliament is adjourned. Erdogan’s ruling coalition holds the majority in parliament and no opposition party has so far opposed Finland’s bid.
Sweden and Finland ended their years of non-aligned military policy and formally applied to join NATO last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. Their accession requires unanimous approval from all 30 NATO member states. 28 of them have confirmed the expansion so far, with Turkey and Hungary remaining as the sole holdings.
Ankara has asked Helsinki and Stockholm to extradite individuals it considers terrorists, curb their activities and end any defense sales barriers against Turkey, but its requests have mostly been directed at Sweden.
After Finland lifted its de facto defense sales embargo on Turkey and modified its terrorism laws, Ankara announced it was ready to ratify Finland’s offer, leaving Sweden behind.
Briefing the parliament on Thursday, Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Burak Akcapar said that Finland has shown its will and determination in the fight against terrorism
“Since the beginning of this process, Finland has been more prepared and decisive to address the sensitivities and expectations of our country,” said Akcapar of the country’s public broadcaster TRT.
“He took restrictions on the defensive field. Our companies in the defense industry are in close cooperation with Finnish companies today,” he said.
The two Nordic countries and Washington have been pushing for a joint ratification process as part of the ongoing tripartite talks between Ankara, Stockholm and Helsinki, but Turkey and Sweden have failed to reach an agreement. Speaking last week, Erdogan said that the negotiations between Ankara and Stockholm would continue.
Ankara calls for the extradition of around 120 people from Stockholm for their alleged links to terrorism. The worst issue between the two capitals is that Turkey’s definition of terrorism differs greatly from that of Sweden, which is known as a beacon of democracy around the world.