Turkey and Hungary set to ratify Finland's NATO bid

Turkey and Hungary set to ratify Finland's NATO bid
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Turkish president and Hungarian ruling party official have almost simultaneously declared support for Finland's accession to NATO, as both denied Sweden a similar support.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey's parliament will begin ratifying Finland's NATO bid, but not that of Sweden.

Speaking in Ankara alongside Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto, Erdogan said Helsinki won Turkey's blessing after taking concrete steps to keep its promises to crack down on what it sees as terrorists and to lift restrictions on defense exports.

Ankara will continue discussions with Stockholm on terrorism-related issues and Sweden's NATO membership bid would depend directly on measures taken, he added.

"We have decided to initiate the ratification of Finland's accession process to NATO in our parliament," Erdogan told reporters after meeting with Niinisto, adding he hoped parliament would endorse the bid before the elections on 14 May.

Niinisto said he welcomed the decision and called it "very important" for Finland.

Sweden and Finland applied last year to join the trans-Atlantic pact but faced objections from Ankara who says Stockholm harbors "terrorist" groups.

Turkey and Hungary are the only remaining NATO members who are yet to give green light to the two Nordic countries' accession to NATO.

The leader of Hungary's ruling Fidesz party's parliamentary group also said on Friday that Hungary's parliament will vote on the ratification of Finland's NATO accession on 27 March, and that the majority ruling party bloc will unanimously support the bid.

Mate Kocsis said in a Facebook post that the Fidesz parliamentary group will decide on Sweden's NATO accession "later," without specifying.