Turkey may ratify Finland NATO membership next month, sources say

Finland's head of state, President Sauli Niinistö, during a recent official visit to Estonia.
Finland's head of state, President Sauli Niinistö, during a recent official visit to Estonia. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Turkey is "highly likely" to ratify Finland's accession to NATO by mid-April, Reuters reports, citing two sources, though this will not be the case with Sweden's application.

"We are looking favorably at Finland's accession. It would not be wrong to say that accession talks will be held at different times than Sweden," one Turkish senior official said, with the other saying "Positive messages will be given to Finland's president during his visit," referring to an official visit Sauli Niinistö is making just after Turkey goes to the polls in May.

Both officials declined to be named.

A source also told Reuters that Helsinki's line on terror organizations was closer to what Turkey would want, than is Stockholm's; the supposed harboring in Sweden of terrorists, including those from Kurdish groups, is the major stated hurdle in Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's greenlighting of Sweden's application to NATO, made at the same time as Finland's, last May and following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

While the required steps for Finland's membership being made ahead of parliament dissolving in mid-April are "highly likely", the source told Reuters, talks between Sweden and Turkey have stalled, not helped by a recent Qu'ran-burning incident in the Swedish capital.

Even Sweden's prime minister has conceded that Finland's accession to NATO is likely to materialize first, and separately.

Parliamentary and presidential elections are due on May 14, and Niinistö's visit will take place two days later.

Several leading NATO member states including the U.S. had stated a desire to get the matter squared away before the next summit, in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July – over a year after Estonia ratified both country's applications.

In addition to Turkey, Hungary is also a hold-out on the applications, and has yet to ratify them.

Finnish public broadcaster Yle reports that Budapest is further delaying, ostensibly over disagreements with Brussels over EU funding.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Reuters, Yle

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