Erdogan: Turkey to ratify Finland's NATO bid

STORY: Turkey says it will begin ratifying Finland’s NATO bid - lifting the biggest hurdle left to enlarging the Western defense alliance as war rages in Ukraine.

President Tayyip Erdogan made the announcement on Friday - though he held off approving Sweden’s bid.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the move.

"The most important thing is that both Finland and Sweden become full members of NATO quickly, not whether they join at exactly the same time."

In Stockholm, Sweden's Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said it's a question of when Sweden becomes a member, not if.

The three countries signed a deal in Madrid last year laying out steps to overcome Turkey’s concerns over accession, but Ankara has said Sweden has not gone far enough.

Ankara says Stockholm harbors members of what Turkey calls terrorist groups, particularly the Kurdish militant group PKK, a charge Sweden denies.

The parliaments of all 30 NATO members must ratify newcomers.

Finland would be the first to join since North Macedonia in 2020.

It had applied to join last year along with Sweden in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine… But faced unexpected objections from Turkey, which joined in 1952.

Turkey’s parliament is expected to ratify Finland before mid-April.