NATO Clears Final Hurdle To Add New Member Finland

Photo by ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Friday his country will ratify the expansion of NATO to add Finland, knocking down the final major barrier to including the Scandinavian country in the alliance.

Erdogan met with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in Ankara prior to the announcement, apparently assuaging concerns Turkey previously expressed that Finland was not doing enough to combat groups Turkey considers to be terrorists. All 30 members of NATO must unanimously agree to admit new members and ratify their addition to the treaty via their domestic legal process.

Turkey and Hungary are the only two members of the alliance not to ratify the addition of Finland as well as Sweden, both of which countries applied for membership formally in May 2022 after Russia invaded Ukraine. Hungary’s ruling party recently indicated it will choose to ratify the addition of both countries, although the formal process continues to be delayed.

Erdogan’s government still opposes the addition of Sweden, primarily due to allegations that Sweden is harboring members of the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK), which Turkey considers to be a terrorist group. Turkey has demanded Sweden turn over hundreds of members of the PKK that are in the country, and was outraged by anti-Islamic protests that recently occurred in Stockholm, imploring the Swedish government not to allow them.

“When it comes to fulfilling its pledges in the trilateral memorandum of understanding, we have seen that Finland has taken authentic and concrete steps,” Erdogan said Friday. Turkey, Finland and Sweden signed an agreement in June where the two Scandinavian countries agreed to take steps to appease Ankara’s concerns in order to join the alliance.

“This sensitivity for our country’s security and, based on the progress that has been made in the protocol for Finland’s accession to NATO, we have decided to initiate the ratification process in our parliament,” Erdogan continued. (RELATED: NATO Commits To Future Membership For Ukraine)

Erdogan is facing a meaningful threat to his power, currently trailing in polls to an opposition candidate ahead of elections set for May.