Finnish president optimistic Turkey will ratify NATO bid

"I'm optimistic that at the end Turkey will ratify our membership, I hope it takes place as soon as possible."

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Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto attends a news conference in the Parliament Building during The 74th Ordinary Session of the Nordic Council in Helsinki, Finland on November 1, 2022. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva via Reuters)

HELSINKI — Finnish president Sauli Niinisto is optimistic Turkey will ratify Finland’s application to join NATO, he told reporters on Friday.

“I’m optimistic that at the end Turkey will ratify our membership, I hope it takes place as soon as possible,” Niinisto told a joint news conference with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda in Vilnius.

Finland and neighboring Sweden applied for membership of the defence alliance after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The process has been prolonged by negotiations between Finland, Sweden and Turkey after Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan claimed the Nordic countries support groups Turkey deems terrorists.

Niinisto repeated his stance that Finland and Sweden joining together would benefit the whole alliance.

“It’s very important to walk hand in hand with Sweden … Swedish membership is important for all of us,” he said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is currently in Turkey and will meet with Erdogan on Friday while Swedish prime minister Ulf Kristersson is due to travel to Ankara on Nov. 8.

Reporting by Essi Lehto.