Finnish President in Ankara seeking Erdogan's green light for NATO
Niinisto and Erdogan are scheduled to hold talks and have a working dinner before meeting with reporters later Friday.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto arrived in Ankara on Friday to receive Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's verdict on his Nordic country's stalled drive to join the NATO military alliance.
Finland and its neighbor Sweden ended decades of military non-alignment and decided to join the US-led alliance in the wake of the war in Ukraine.
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.
Niinisto and Erdogan are scheduled to hold talks and have a working dinner before meeting reporters later Friday.
"We will do our part, we will keep the promise we gave," Erdogan said when asked about Finland's application this week.
The Turkish leader has accused the Nordic neighbors of breaking the terms of a separate deal they reached in June 2022 under which Turkey agreed to approve the bids.
One request vs. a long list of conditions— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) June 28, 2022
While #Turkey had a long list of conditions from #Finland and #Sweden, all the two Nordic states wanted was to join #NATO.
Here's your guide to understanding on what basis the agreement was made. pic.twitter.com/Aw7Jtu7frp
Ankara suspended negotiations with Sweden in outrage following rallies attacking the Turkish leadership in Stockholm and the burning of the holy Quran outside Turkey's embassy, but the talks resumed in Brussels on March 9.
Turkey has opposed the bids, accusing Sweden in particular of providing a safe haven for what it considers "terrorists", especially members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Erdogan announced in January that he was happy with the progress Finland was making and was ready to put its ratification before parliament.
NATO had hoped to formally welcome both countries at another summit planned for July in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.
Talks in Ankara put pressure on Hungary
Finland and Sweden had initially resisted the idea of breaking up their bids. But Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson acknowledged on Tuesday that the likelihood of Finland joining NATO on its own had "increased".
Niinisto then said on Wednesday that he had been invited to Turkey by Erdogan to personally "receive the answer when they announce the decision" on NATO.
The talks in Ankara put more pressure on Hungary's parliament to end its own ratification delays. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban enjoys a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and has numerous disputes with both NATO and the European Union.
The Hungarian parliament began debating the two NATO bids at the beginning of the month. But Orban's ruling party said on Tuesday it will not be sitting next week because of a breakdown of separate negotiations with Brussels over EU funding.