Turkey to vote on Finland’s NATO membership

The Turkish parliament is scheduled to vote on Finland’s membership in NATO Thursday while Sweden’s bid is still pending after a range of disputes between Ankara and Stockholm.

For a new country to join NATO, each of the alliance’s existing members needs to give its formal approval.

The general assembly session will start at 2 pm (1100 GMT), according to the legislative house’s website.

After a recent meeting in Ankara with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced they started the ratification process for Finland’s admission into the alliance.

Erdoğan cited the Nordic country’s efforts to keep its promises as part of the memorandum. He also expressed hope that Finland’s NATO membership would be ratified before presidential and parliamentary elections, which are set for May 14.

Meanwhile, Erdoğan noted Türkiye is not ready to approve Sweden’s bid yet, saying Sweden has not responded positively to Ankara’s extradition requests for terrorists and has embraced them.

Sweden and Finland abandoned decades of non-alignment and applied to join NATO in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. All NATO members, except Türkiye and Hungary, have ratified their accession, but unanimity is required.

Ankara has previously said Sweden in particular must first take a clearer stance against terrorists. Türkiye has frequently voiced that it does not oppose NATO expansion but criticizes Stockholm for not taking action against elements that are posing a security threat to Ankara.

Last June, Türkiye and the two Nordic countries signed a memorandum to address Ankara’s legitimate security concerns, paving way for their eventual membership in the alliance.

But recent provocative demonstrations by terrorist sympathizers and Islamophobic figures in Stockholm have led Turkish leaders to question Sweden’s commitment to take the steps necessary for NATO membership.

Ahead of a historic NATO summit, the three countries signed a trilateral deal in June that prevented a Turkish veto. In the memorandum, the Nordic countries said they would address Türkiye’s extradition requests for terrorists.

In addition, the joint directive states that Finland and Sweden “will not provide support to … the organization described as FETÖ” and “terrorist groups.”