Turkey's Erdoğan Approves Finland's NATO Bid

    Turkey's Erdoğan Approves Finland's NATO Bid
    Last updated Mar 17, 2023
    Image credit: Reuters [via CNBC]


    • On Friday, Turkey's Pres. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan approved Finland's bid to join NATO — ending nearly a year of impasse after he threatened to veto both Finland and Sweden's application over concerns about their alleged ties to militant groups.[1]
    • In the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Finland and Sweden applied to join the alliance last May, marking a reversal from their usual political neutrality.[2]
    • The two nations had initially submitted their application as a package deal, and in June, signed a 10-point agreement with Turkey to address its security concerns.[3]
    • Ankara maintains allegations, however, that Sweden is concealing militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and tensions further rose in January after far-right protesters burned a Quran outside of Turkey's embassy in Stockholm.[4]
    • Any new member must secure support from all 30 members of the alliance, with Finland still requiring approval from Hungary, which has indicated it will back the bid during a March 27 vote.[4]
    • Finland's application now goes to Turkey's parliament for a formal vote of approval. Meanwhile, Sweden remains confident it will join the alliance, with its foreign minister saying it's "a matter of when, not if, Sweden join[s] Nato [sic]"[2]


    Narrative A

    While on the surface this appears to be a win for Finland, it's a decisive ploy to stoke division between the two Nordic countries. While much of Turkey's disapproval has always been directed at Sweden, Finland has made it consistently clear that NATO entry is a joint ticket. Sweden is as valuable an asset to NATO as NATO is to Sweden, and — for the sake of the Atlantic Alliance — it will be best for all parties if the issue is resolved.

    Narrative B

    Turkey doesn't oppose NATO enlargement — as evidenced by Erdoğan's latest decision — however, it does take a stand against countries that protect those who pose a security threat to Ankara. Sweden holds a bigger PKK presence than Finland and has long been criticized for its housing of multiple terrorists. There must be a change in the country's stance towards Ankara's national security if they wish to join NATO alongside Finland.

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