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. 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.
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. In June of 2019, Turkey, Finland and Sweden signed a pact aimed at ironing out disputes regarding the Nordic states' inclusion.
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.”
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. 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. 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.
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. 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.”
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. 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.
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