Published: 2023-03-17 18:41
Last Updated: 2023-03-27 19:40
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ended months of delays Friday and asked parliament to vote on Finland's bid to join the NATO defense bloc.
Erdogan's announcement following talks with his visiting Finnish counterpart raises the chances that the Nordic nation will join the US-led defense alliance without its neighbor Sweden.
Finland and Sweden ended decades of military non-alignment and decided to join the US-led defense alliance in the wake of the Russian-Ukrainian war.
Their applications were accepted at a June NATO summit but the bids still needed to be ratified by all 30 of the alliance members' parliaments -- a process that got hung up once it reached the turn of Turkey and Hungary.
Friday's breakthrough raises the chances of Finland formally becoming the 31st member of NATO at an alliance summit scheduled for July in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.
Erdogan told Finnish President Sauli Niinisto that Helsinki had shown a strong commitment to addressing Ankara's security concerns.
"We decided to start the protocol of Finland's accession to NATO in our parliament," Erdogan told reporters after the talks.
"I hope that it will be done before the elections" in May.