Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) and Finland's President Sauli Niinisto speak to the media during a joint press conference at the presidential palace in Ankara, Türkiye, March 17, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)
ANKARA – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed Friday to ask the parliament to vote on Finland's NATO membership bid, but delayed that of Sweden, citing steps seen from Finland to address Türkiye's security concerns.
Sweden and Finland submitted their formal requests to join NATO in May 2022, which were initially objected by Türkiye, a NATO member, citing their support for anti-Turkish Kurdish organizations and political dissidents
"We have observed concrete and sincere steps from Finland in recent times. As a result of Finland's sensitivities towards our legitimate security concerns, we have decided to initiate the approval process" in the parliament, Erdogan said at a press conference with Finland's President Sauli Niinisto in the Turkish capital of Ankara.
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He stressed he believed that NATO will further strengthen and play a crucial role in global security with Finland's admission.
Erdogan meanwhile said Türkiye still expected Sweden to extradite 120 members of what Türkiye calls terrorist groups, before his country approaches the Swedish membership bid "positively."
Finnish President Niinisto, for his part, welcomed Türkiye's decision as "a significant move for all the people of Finland," but hinted that Finland would only join the military bloc together with Sweden.
"Because we have joint security interests. We have borders in the Baltic Sea. I hope we will be an alliance with 32 members at the Vilnius Summit," he said, speaking of the planned NATO summit in July.
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Sweden and Finland submitted their formal requests to join NATO in May 2022, which were initially objected by Türkiye, a NATO member, citing their support for anti-Turkish Kurdish organizations and political dissidents.
A month later, Türkiye lifted its objections after reaching a deal with Sweden and Finland in Madrid.