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Turkey’s president Erdogan asks parliament to ratify Finland NATO membership

 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that Turkey would move forward with ratifying Finland’s NATO application, paving the way for the country to join the military bloc ahead of Sweden.

The breakthrough came as Finnish President Sauli Niinistö was in Ankara to meet with Erdogan and 10 months after both Finland and Swden applied to become NATO members in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, abandoning decades of nonalignment.

“When it comes to fulfilling its pledges in the trilateral memorandum of understanding, we have seen that Finland has taken authentic and concrete steps,” Erdogan told a news conference in Ankara following his meeting with Niinistö.

With Erdogan’s agreement, Finland’s application can now go to the Turkish parliament, where the president’s party and its allies hold a majority. Ratification is expected before Turkey holds its presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 14 May.

Erdogan suggested Wednesday that his country might take up Finland’s accession following Niinisto’s trip.

NATO requires the unanimous approval of its 30 existing members to expand, and Turkey and Hungary have failed so far to ratify the accession of the Nordic neighbours.

Turkey’s government accuses Sweden of being too soft on groups that it deems to be terror organisations, including Kurdish groups, and has said it has fewer problems with Finland.

“This sensitivity for our country’s security and, based on the progress that has been made in the protocol for Finland’s accession to NATO, we have decided to initiate the ratification process in our parliament,“ Erdogan said Friday.

Turkey, Finland and Sweden signed an agreement in June last year to resolve differences over the Nordic states’ membership.

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