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Erdogan Pushes for NATO Enlargement with Finland and Hungary

NATO’s Nordic enlargement took a significant step forward on Friday when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that he will push to ratify NATO accession for Finland in Turkey’s Parliament in the coming weeks.[0] The announcement came after a joint press conference in Ankara with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, following months of diplomatic wrangling between Ankara and Helsinki over Turkish security concerns.[1]

The Finnish and Swedish governments jointly handed over their membership applications in Brussels in May, reversing their longstanding policy of nonalignment after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.[2] In June of 2019, Turkey, Finland and Sweden signed a pact aimed at ironing out disputes regarding the Nordic states' inclusion.[3]

Erdogan said that Turkey is “one of the strong defenders of NATO’s open-door policy” and that NATO “will become stronger with Finland’s membership and thus, I believe, will play an active role in maintaining global security and stability.”[4]

The U.S. has pushed for the fast ratification of both Nordic nations’ entry and most allies want the northern enlargement completed by the bloc’s upcoming summit in July.[5] Jake Sullivan, the United States' National Security Adviser, expressed his approval of Erdogan's announcement and urged Turkey to show support for Sweden as well.[6] At the NATO summit in Vilnius this July, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg expressed his hope that both Sweden and Finland would have become full members of NATO by then.[7]

Meanwhile, Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party said on Friday that a vote would take place in parliament in Budapest on 27 March and that it would vote yes.[8] This week, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson spoke to reporters and stated: “What we have encountered in recent weeks is that the probability of this happening at different times has increased…At the end of the day, it is not a matter of whether Sweden becomes a member of NATO, but when.”[9]

The inclusion of Finland in the alliance would double NATO's border with Russia, which currently makes up 6% of Russia's total land border.[5] The alliance would be able to monitor the Russian border more effectively with the assistance of Finland's highly-skilled military, which already works with weapons compatible with the alliance.[5]

0. “Odds Finland joins NATO before Sweden are increasing, Swedish PM says” Global News, 14 Mar. 2023, https://globalnews.ca/news/9549831/finland-sweden-nato-ulf-kristersson/

1. “Turkey's President Approves Finland's NATO Membership Bid” The Wall Street Journal, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/turkeys-president-approves-finlands-nato-membership-bid-8667b866

2. “Turkey's Erdoğan backs Finland's bid to join NATO” Axios, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.axios.com/2023/03/17/turkey-finland-nato-expansion-sweden

3. “Turkey’s Erdogan says he will back Finland’s NATO bid” Al Jazeera English, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/3/17/turkeys-erdogan-to-back-finlands-nato-bid

4. “Turkish president lifts veto on Finland’s Nato application” The Guardian, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/mar/17/turkish-president-lifts-veto-on-finland-nato-application

5. “NATO Edges Closer to Expansion as Finland Wins Over Holdouts” Yahoo Life, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/nato-edges-closer-expansion-turkey-145157500.html

6. “Finland's accession to NATO: Foreign Secretary's statement on Turkey's ratification decision” GOV.UK, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/finlands-accession-to-nato-foreign-secretary-statement

7. “Turkey says it will ratify Finland's bid to join NATO” NPR, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.npr.org/2023/03/17/1164236651/turkey-finland-nato-erdogan-sweden

8. “Turkey's Erdogan seals deal on Finland joining Nato” BBC, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-64986744

9. “Hungary scraps parliamentary session as Sweden and Finland await NATO vote” Washington Examiner, 14 Mar. 2023, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/defense-national-security/hungary-scraps-parliamentary-session

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