Finland's NATO Membership Not Complete Without Sweden: President
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The start of the ratification of Finland's accession to NATO by the Turkish parliament is an important step for the country, but it will not be complete without Sweden's membership in the bloc, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said on Friday.
Earlier in the day, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country was starting the ratification of Finland's application to join NATO, which is likely to be completed before the presidential election in Turkey in May.
"It is very good to hear these news ... The Turkish parliament starts to work with the ratification of Finnish membership ... But we have a neighbor, Sweden. What I now say is not only due to the fact that they are nice people and we have excellent relations with our neighbor. But I have a feeling that Finnish NATO membership is not complete without Sweden, we have so much common interest," Niinisto said at a press conference with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara.
During the press conference, Erdogan stated that Sweden's membership in NATO would depend on further steps taken by Stockholm regarding the extradition of some Kurds considered by Ankara as terrorists, among other issues.
On May 18, three months after the start of Russia's military operation in Ukraine, Finland and Sweden submitted their NATO membership applications, abandoning decades of neutrality. Turkey initially blocked their bids due to its concern over Helsinki and Stockholm's long-standing support of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which Ankara regards as a serious threat to its national security. Turkey lifted its objections after Erdogan and the two Nordic leaders met in Madrid in June 2022, where they signed a security memorandum to unblock the process of Finland and Sweden's accession
The accession process came once more to a standstill for Sweden in January this year following the Quran-burning incident in Stockholm. Erdogan said the country should not count on Ankara's support for its NATO bid, but expressed no reservations regarding Finland's bid.
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