February 21. 2024. 7:54

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Finland expects ‘concrete’ NATO progress at Niinistö’s Turkey visit


Finnish politicians and analysts anticipate concrete and positive results from President Sauli Niinistö’s two-day visit to Ankara on Friday, which Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will also attend.

Niinistö’s two-day visit could be a breakthrough for Finland, which has seen its membership bid thwarted by Turkey and Hungary for over a year. But President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement on Wednesday: “we (Turkey) will meet the Finnish president and fulfil the promise we have made”, has given many hope.

”Yes, we do have a justified reason to expect a confirmation on Friday that Turkey would complete this ratification,” Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen (Centre) told Uusi Suomi.

“Visits on a presidential level would hardly be paid if one could not expect positive progress for ratification,” Henri Vanhane, a research fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, told Helsingin Sanomat on Thursday.

However, if Finland comes out of the meeting with positive news, it may not go down well with Sweden, which since May 2022 and until recently was Finland’s bidding partner.

Though paths are now likely to diverge, Sweden appears to have acknowledged the situation, with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson saying the country’s security will improve with Finland’s NATO membership.

Finland has been quick to avoid any ill feelings between the neighbouring countries. On Wednesday, Niinistö said he would”continue my work to support Sweden’s NATO membership” after speaking with Kristersson.

In Ankara, leaders will discuss the “geopolitical situation, bilateral relations between Finland and Turkey and Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership”, Niinistö’s office said.

(Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)