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Turkish parliamentary committee approves Finland's NATO bid

A Turkish parliamentary committee has unanimously approved Finland's NATO membership.
MARKKU ULANDER/Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images

The Turkish Parliament's general assembly is set to ratify Finland’s NATO membership after the Nordic country’s accession protocol was approved by a parliamentary committee late Thursday.

The parliament's foreign affairs committee unanimously approved the protocol pertaining to Finland's accession to the alliance. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the initiation of Finland's ratification process during Finnish President Sauli Niinisto’s Ankara visit last week. He called on the parliament for swift ratification before the May 14 elections. 

The committee will now submit its decision to the general assembly, which is expected to debate and ratify the protocol before mid-April, when the parliament will adjourn. The Erdogan-led ruling alliance holds the majority in the parliament and no opposition parties have raised any opposition to the Finnish bid so far. 

Sweden and Finland dropped their decades of military non-alignment policy and formally applied to join NATO last year following Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine. Their accession requires unanimous approval by all 30 NATO member states. So far 28 of them have ratified the expansion, with Turkey and Hungary remaining the sole holdouts.

Ankara has asked both Helsinki and Stockholm to extradite individuals it deems terrorists, restrict their activities and remove any defense sales embargoes against Turkey, but its requests were largely directed at Sweden. 

After Finland lifted its de facto defense sales embargo on Turkey and modified its terrorism laws, Ankara announced it was ready to ratify the Finnish bid, leaving Sweden behind.

Briefing the parliament on Thursday, Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister Burak Akcapar said Finland had demonstrated its will and determination in the fight against terrorism  

"From the onset of this process, Finland has been more prepared and decisive to address our country’s sensitivities and expectations," Akcapar was quoted as saying by the country's public broadcaster TRT.  

“It lifted restrictions on the defense field. Our defense industry companies are in close cooperation with Finnish companies today,” he added.

Both Nordic countries and Washington pressed for a joint ratification process as part of the ongoing three-party talks between Ankara, Stockholm and Helsinki, but Turkey and Sweden have failed to reach an agreement. Speaking last week, Erdogan said negotiations between Ankara and Stockholm would continue.

Ankara requests the extradition of some 120 people from Stockholm over their alleged links to the terrorism. It's the thorniest issue between the two capitals as Turkey’s definition of terrorism largely differs from that of Sweden, which is known as a beacon of democracy across the world.  

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