President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey would start the process of ratifying Finland's NATO membership bid in parliament, saying that the country had taken "sincere and concrete steps" to allay Turkey's concerns about Finland hosting Kurds and other opposition forces who fled Turkey.
The breakthrough came as Finnish President Sauli Niinisto was in Ankara to meet with Erdogan and 10 months after both Finland and Sweden applied to become NATO members in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, having remained neutral throughout the Cold War.
"We have decided to start the protocol of Finland's accession to NATO in our parliament," Erdogan said following talks with his visiting Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto.
Niinisto welcomed Turkey's plan to start the process of ratifying Finland's NATO membership. "We understood earlier on that you have done your decision and signing it today confirms that the Turkish parliament starts to work with ratification of Finnish membership," Niinisto said.
With Erdogan's agreement, Finland's application can now go to the Turkish parliament, where the president's party and its allies hold a majority. Ratification is expected before Turkey holds its presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for May 14.
NATO requires the unanimous approval of the legislatures of its 30 existing members to expand, and Turkey and Hungary are the only two countries yet to do this for Sweden and Finland.
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