Sidelined Sweden dampens Finland’s NATO bid

NATO expanding with Finland to become its 31st member.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, United States and France are half-heartedly happy of Hungary and Turkey’s rush to ratify only Finland’s membership to the Western military alliance while snubbing Sweden’s bid to also join the bloc.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ended months of diplomatically charged delays on Friday and asked parliament to quickly back Finland’s bid to join NATO, Agence France-Presse reported.

A simultaneous decision by fellow holdout Hungary to schedule a Finnish ratification vote for 27 March means the US-led defense alliance will likely grow to 31 nations within a few months.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Turkey’s decision, but stressed the importance of Sweden also joining “as soon as possible.”

“The most important thing is that both Finland and Sweden become full members of NATO quickly, not whether they join at exactly the same time,” Stoltenberg said, according to AFP.

The White House echoed the NATO chief’s position. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the US urged Hungary to conclude its ratification process both for Sweden and Finland “without delay.”

France’s foreign ministry called Turkey’s announcement about Finland “an important signal” while reiterating support for Sweden’s bid as well.

Finnish president Sauli Niinisto called Erdogan’s decision Friday “very important for the whole of Finland” but said, “Finland’s application is not complete without Sweden.”

Erdogan is not supporting Sweden’s NATO application for allegedly refusing to extradite dozens of Kurdish and other suspects accused of ties to outlawed militants and a failed 2016 coup attempt.


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