UPDATES WITH MORE QUOTES FROM TURKISH PRESIDENT ERDOGAN
By Merve Aydogan
ANKARA (AA) - Türkiye on Friday said it is approving the process of Finland's NATO membership protocol in its parliament.
Noting that Finland has fulfilled Türkiye's security concerns, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a joint press conference with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto in Ankara said: "We have decided to launch the approval process of Finland's NATO membership protocol in our Parliament.”
Citing negotiations on Sweden and Finland's accession bids at the NATO Madrid summit in June 2022, Erdogan said that Türkiye is among the strong defenders of NATO's open door policy.
Türkiye has "seen that Finland has taken sincere and concrete steps to fulfill its commitments in the tripartite memorandum" since signed at the Madrid summit, Erdogan said.
"NATO will become stronger with Finland's membership, and I believe it will play an active role in maintaining global security and stability," Erdogan added.
He further emphasized that Türkiye-Finland relations will be strengthened on the basis of NATO alliance following the completion of the approval process.
On Sweden's process, Erdogan said that Türkiye will continue its talks "on the basis of the principles of the alliance and our approach to the fight against terrorism."
"I believe that our country's principles and goodwill in advancing the (NATO accession) process is now more clearly seen," he added.
Saying that Stockholm "has embraced terrorists, which was not the case for Finland," the Turkish president said: "How the process will progress will be directly linked to the concrete steps which Sweden will take."
Erdogan recalled that Türkiye "submitted a list of 120 terrorists" in Sweden and urged the Swedish government to "hand them over" to Türkiye. "It is not possible for us to take a positive stance toward Sweden if terrorists are not handed over to us."
Reiterating Türkiye's stance on NATO enlargement, Erdogan stressed that Türkiye has a "red line" in the fight against terrorism.
"As long as we witness the unfavorable approaches toward Türkiye in the fight against terrorism, we are ready to take any stance no matter where the approaches emerge," he added.
For his part, Niinisto thanked Ankara on behalf of all Finnish people for the approval and said "it is very good to hear this news."
The Finnish president praised his Turkish counterpart and noted that he is "one of the few, if not the only one, having talks all around with everybody in the world."
Abandoning decades of military non-alignment, Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO last May.
However, Türkiye, a longstanding NATO member, asked the two Nordic states to take concrete action against terror groups like the PKK and Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), which carry out propaganda, funding, and recruitment activities in these countries.
In June, Finland and Sweden signed a memorandum with Türkiye to address Ankara’s security concerns, and senior diplomats and officials from the three countries have held various meetings since then to discuss the implementation of the trilateral agreement.