(Photo Credit: Anadolu Agency)
The Turkish parliament passed a proposal on 30 March that grants Finland eligibility to join NATO, removing the last hurdle for the Nordic nation to join the western security alliance, CNN has reported.
Turkiye and Hungary were the only two NATO members, out of 30, that objected to Finland and Sweden’s proposals to join the military alliance, following the start of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine in February 2022.
Turkiye approved Finland’s request days after Hungary’s legislature also approved Helsinki’s bid.
Turkiye initially denied Finland and Sweden’s bids to join NATO over their connection to Kurdish groups in Iraq, such as the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and its Syrian offshoot, the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Ankara considers the PKK and its offshoots as terror organizations and holds them responsible for numerous terror attacks in Turkiye over previous decades, including the recent Istanbul bombing in November 2022.
The Finnish government released a statement after the Turkish Parliament vote saying: “NATO membership will strengthen Finland’s security and improve stability and security in the Baltic Sea region and Northern Europe.”
However, Turkiye remains indecisive about Sweden’s proposal, given Ankara’s claim that Swedish officials have not taken the necessary measures to crackdown internally on members of the PKK and allied Kurdish militia groups, many of whom continue to reside in Stockholm. Ankara has also criticized Sweden’s failure to extradite militants from the PKK as well as militants from the Gulen Movement back to Turkiye.
Earlier this year, a far-right Swedish politician burned several Qurans in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, which resulted in the Turkish government further resolving to block Sweden’s NATO bid. The Swedish government’s refusal to stop recent Quran-burning protests has further inflamed tensions.
However, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson described the act as “extremely serious” and an attempt to sabotage the nation’s NATO application.
This situation came a week after the Turkish government criticized the decision of the Swedish Public Prosecutor’s Office not to investigate a protest in Stockholm in which an effigy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was hung from its legs.