Turkey's Erdoğan backs Finland's bid to join NATO

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in Ankara. Photo: Sansar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Turkey announced on Friday plans to ratify Finland's decision to join NATO, a major step toward the alliance adding its 31st member.

Driving the news: “We decided to start the ratification process in our Parliament for Finland’s membership,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a news conference Friday, according to a translation from The New York Times.

  • The announcement came after Erdoğan met with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in Ankara, Turkey.
  • Erdoğan said he hoped Turkey will complete the process by the country's mid-May elections, Bloomberg reports.

Context: Turkey’s Parliament must ratify Finland's membership into NATO, which requires unanimous approval from the nations within it, NYT reports.

  • Hungary is the only other NATO member that has not ratified Finland's bid. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has delayed a vote on Finland and Sweden joining NATO despite his party's support.

The big picture: Finland and Sweden handed over their NATO applications last May, looking to join the defensive alliance after Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

  • Though Finland's move has Erdoğan's approval, he has expressed concerns about Sweden's membership bid, saying the Nordic country should take a tougher stance against Kurdish separatists, per the NYT.

Yes, but: Finland's Niinisto said that the "Finnish NATO membership is not complete without Sweden," per Bloomberg.

  • “We have so much common interest having been neighbors and having the Baltic Sea area on our shore," he said.

Go deeper: Why NATO formed and why Finland and Sweden want to join the alliance

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