Finland has taken a major step towards membership of NATO, after Türkiye has given the green light and Hungary has decided on a vote.

For Sweden, the Turkish door is still closed.

"Finland has taken concrete steps to live up to the agreement", says Türkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Finland's President Sauli Niinistö on the left, and Türkiye's ditto Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Finland's President Sauli Niinistö on the left, and Türkiye's counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Friday's announcement came after a meeting between Erdogan and Finland's President Sauli Niinistö in Ankara.

"Our discussions with Sweden will continue. We have started to see Sweden's goodwill in a clearer way. However, how this process develops is linked to the concrete steps that Sweden is taking", says Erdogan.

The President is asked what Finland has done, unlike Sweden, to be approved. He says that Finland's situation differs from Sweden's then, by Türkiye's terrorist-stamped organizations and its "extended arms", still "demonstrations on the streets of Stockholm".

"We have given Sweden a list of about 120 terrorists to hand out to Türkiye. They have not fulfilled that. Since they have not, we cannot have a positive attitude towards Sweden", says Erdogan.

Mr Erdogan says that Türkiye has drawn a tough line in the "fight against terrorism."

"If a country does not help Türkiye in that fight, Türkiye cannot, of course, say yes to that country", says Erdogan.

He adds that Türkiye has not seen "any results" from Sweden and that no "positive steps" have been taken regarding the list of people he wants to see extradited.

"Not complete."

Sauli Niinistö calls Friday's announcement "good news", but also mentioned Sweden's situation.

"My feeling is that Finland's membership of NATO is not complete without Sweden", says Niinistö and continues:

"I hope that the number of members of NATO after the Vilnius Summit will be increased to 32 countries."

NATO currently consists of 30 Member States.

Later, in connection with a press conference with the Finnish media community, Niinistö said that Türkiye's decision did not require a significant "co-commerce" Finland had already received signals that it met the criteria for membership.

According to Niinistö, Türkiye has been waiting for Finland to announce its willingness to proceed in the process without Sweden.

"Finland has not announced that will," he says.

Concrete steps

Türkiye is asking for "concrete steps" from Sweden before it can become a yes to a Swedish NATO membership.

"The Swedish government can hope that Türkiye will be satisfied that the Riksdag clubs through the latest terrorist crime law", says Paul Levin, director of the Institute for Türkiye Studies at Stockholm University, to TT.

Another option is that Türkiye wants to wait until the legislation comes into force on 1 June.

"There is also a risk that Erdogan will want to wait until he sees legal action as a result of the new legislation, i.e. Police investigations, prosecutions and perhaps even convictions."

The forthcoming Turkish elections will have major consequences for Sweden, according to Paul Levin.

"The public opinion has told us that they would be in favor of rapid ratification."

Hungary shall vote:

According to the news agency AFP, the Hungarian Parliament will vote to approve Finland's NATO application on 27 March. Media data suggest that Hungary will wait to ratify Sweden's application.

According to Zoltan Kovacs, spokesperson for the government, the ruling party Fidesz supports Finland's membership of NATO, he writes on Twitter.

Sauli Niinistö calls Hungary's latest announcement surprising.

"As far as I know, there is no motive for Hungary to distinguish between Finland and Sweden. We'll see if they do", he says to the Finnish media.

Türkiye has indicated that Finland's membership will probably be ratified before the elections in Türkiye on 14 May.

In addition to Türkiye, Hungary is the only NATO country that has not yet approved the Swedish and Finnish applications. Hungary's President Viktor Orbán has also been in Türkiye, but, according to the Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat, left during the afternoon.

Türkiye's President Mr Erdogan, on the left, and Finland's President Sauli Niinistö in Ankara.
Türkiye's President Mr Erdogan, on the left, and Finland's President Sauli Niinistö in Ankara.

Facts: NATO process

Türkiye and Hungary are the only NATO countries that have not yet ratified the Swedish and Finnish applications.

Sweden and Finland last summer concluded an agreement with Türkiye with a number of points that must be fulfilled in order for Türkiye to give the green light to their NATO applications. Türkiye has now given the green light for Finland, while Sweden has to wait.

While the tone from Türkiye has hardened against Sweden, Hungary has signaled that it is in favor of Sweden and Finland.

Once all 30 NATO members have approved Sweden's and Finland's application, the Parliaments of the applicant countries must also approve the accession protocol and send it to the US Foreign Office. The US then sends a letter to NATO announcing that the new countries have entered the defense alliance.