Finnish PM urges Turkey, Hungary to approve NATO bid

Finnish PM urges Turkey, Hungary to approve NATO bid
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Finland’s Prime Minister asked the last two remaining NATO members to ratify Finland’s application to NATO, ahead of visits by Sweden’s PM Kristersson and NATO chief Stoltenberg to Turkey

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Tuesday urged Hungary and Turkey to approve the Swedish and Finnish applications for membership of the NATO defense alliance.

"All eyes are now on Hungary and Turkey. We are waiting for these countries to ratify our applications. I think it would be important that this would happen preferably sooner than later," Marin told a joint news conference with other Nordic leaders.

Hungary and Turkey are the only two remaining NATO members to give their approval to the applications of Nordic countries. Hungary is expected to ratify the NATO expansion in December but Turkey seeks to implement a trilateral memorandum it signed with Sweden and Finland before a ratification. 

The Nordic neighbours ran into objections from Turkey which has accused the two of harbouring groups it deems terrorists, when they asked to join the NATO alliance in May in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Turkey particularly opposes the membership of Sweden.

Turkish government isn’t satisfied with the steps taken by Sweden to crack down on Kurdish separatists and is unlikely to lift its objections to the nation’s NATO membership bid unless it takes more definitive steps, Turkey’s ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) spokesman Omer Celik said on Tuesday, ahead of a visit by Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Krisstersson to Turkey. 

Kristersson announced that his visit to Turkey was confirmed by both parties but did not give a date. 

 “We have full respect for the fact that every country within the alliance makes its own decisions,” Kristersson said at a news conference in Helsinki on Tuesday. “I had a telephone call with President Erdogan the other day. We agreed on me coming to Ankara and I will communicate the exact date when it is formally confirmed.”

“These statements of Sweden are good, but not enough until they are implemented,” Celik said. “We are waiting for it to come to life.”

Celik’s remarks signaled that Turkey remains defiant in ratifying the membership bids that it first threatened to veto in May.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will also visit Turkey in a separate trip this week to accelerate Turkey’s approval process.