President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has finally agreed to support Finland’s application to join Nato.
Due to Finland’s alleged assistance of “terrorists,” Turkey had been preventing Finland from applying for several months.
Mr. Erdogan lauded Finland’s “genuine and concrete actions” toward Turkish security during a press conference he attended in Ankara with his Finnish colleague.
All of Nato’s members must support any expansion, and Finland is now one step closer to joining.
To accept the proposal, a vote will be submitted to the Turkish parliament.
In May of last year, Finland, which borders Russia, and Sweden submitted applications to join the Western defence alliance.
Turkish concerns prevented both from moving forward, but Mr. Erdogan continues to oppose Sweden. Finland has made the decision to go it alone.
Sauli Niinisto, president of Finland, was welcomed to the presidential palace on the blue carpet when he arrived in the pouring rain.
Yet when the two leaders spoke to reporters, President Erdogan’s animosity against Sweden was evident. He claimed that Sweden had accepted and dubbed “terrorists” Kurdish insurgents. He took exception at the fact that militant Kurdish demonstrations were permitted on Stockholm’s streets.
It was “a development we did not desire, but were prepared for,” according to Tobias Billstrom, the foreign minister of Sweden, who later remarked. He went on to say that Sweden’s NATO membership was still a matter of when, not if.
In response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Finland and Sweden renounced their customary military neutrality. Support for joining NATO increased dramatically overnight, rising from a meager one-third of Finns to nearly 80%.
Both nations still desire to join NATO in time for a summit in Lithuania in July. Nonetheless, all 30 NATO countries must approve the admission of each new member.
On May 14, Turkey will hold presidential and legislative elections. The Helsinki government must still win Hungary’s backing even if the parliament approves Finland’s admission in advance.
But, the ruling Fidesz party in Hungary declared on Friday that it would support the motion in the parliament’s vote on March 27. Sweden would be decided on “later,” according to a prominent party member.
As he stood next to the Turkish president, Mr. Niinisto spoke to the media, saying that the alliance’s expansion would “not be complete without Sweden” and that he hoped to see both nations join by the time of the Vilnius summit.
A far-right Danish lawmaker who has denied any ties to Russian radicals recently set fire to a Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, putting Sweden’s discussions with Turkey on pause for several weeks.
Ulf Kristersson, the prime minister of Sweden, was described by President Erdogan as a “lovely person,” but Ankara had requested that his country extradite about 120 individuals who had not yet been transported to Turkey.
Since February 2022, when Russia’s invasion started, Finland has worked to fortify its eastern border.
You can see for yourself why Finland feels so exposed in Lappeenranta, which is close to the border. The border runs 1,340 kilometers (832 miles) from the Gulf of Finland in the south to the far north of the Arctic.
It is the European Union’s longest border with Russia. Vast pine forests sprawl on both sides, making security and enforcement incredibly challenging. A 200km barrier is being built in Finland to increase security.
Finland and its neighbor have a troubled and protracted history together. After being completely absorbed by Russia at the beginning of the 19th century, it regained its independence following the 1917 Russian Revolution before being invaded by the Soviet Union during World War Two.
Peace has never been taken for granted by anyone. A maze of underground battle bunkers exists in Finland.
Helsinki avoided Russia in its international and even internal policies for decades as a precaution.
Both Finland and Sweden have participated in NATO missions during the Cold War and have been recognized as official NATO members since 1994. Finland, however, felt it would be preferable to delay joining NATO until after Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Finns pride themselves on their pragmatism and now think that inside the alliance rather than outside, their national security is better secured.
Finland has a lower population than Sweden with 5.5 million people, but it has a well-funded military with a total of 280,000 active duty personnel and additional 870,000 reserve personnel.
With conscript numbers of 24,000 in 2025 and 50,000 in 2035, Sweden has attempted to meet Nato’s target of 2% of its economic output by 2026 despite recent declines in defense spending.
Russia posed a real military threat to Sweden, according to Must, Sweden’s military intelligence and security department, which stated last month that the security threat was at its highest level since the early 1980s.
Lina Hallin, the leader of Must, stated that although Russia’s military presently has limited capabilities toward Sweden’s local region, it will be able to draw lessons from the conflict in the Ukraine and bolster its military presence.