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Although Turkey has suspended negotiations with Sweden in its bid to join NATO, the lone holdout has announced that it is ready to approve Finland's bid to join the military alliance. An official announcement of the ratification is expected Friday when Finnish President, Sauli Niinisto, visits Istanbul to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
When questioned by reporters on Wednesday about Finland's bid for NATO membership and whether or not Turkish parliament is ready to ratify Finland after the meeting with Niinisto, Erdogan said, "God willing, if it is for the best." Erdogan also made reference to "keeping our promise" in his comments.
"Whatever the process is, the process will function. We will do our part. We will keep our promise. We will meet with the president on Friday and fulfill the promise we made," Erdogan added.
In a somewhat unexpected twist, Russia took a much softer position on the likely ratification of Finland than many were expecting, with the Kremlin saying Thursday that Russia is not a threat to Finland.
Spokesman Dmitry Peskov stressed on behalf of the Kremlin, "We have many times expressed regret over Finland and Sweden's move toward membership and said many times that Russia does not pose a threat to these countries."
"We do not have any dispute with these countries... They have never posed any threat to us and, logically, we did not threaten them," Peskov concluded.
Finland, however, seems skeptical of Moscow's insistence that it does not pose a threat to the country, with Finland now constructing a 200km fence along its border with Russia to increase security. Finland has also noted that droves of Russian men poured into Sweden to escape conscription in the Russian army and avoid being sent to fight in the war against Ukraine. The fence is reportedly 10 feet high and will be topped with barbed wire.
In the wake of a Quran-burning incident by a far-right activist, Sweden's relations with Turkey have deteriorated, and it is expected for Sweden's bid for NATO membership to continue to stall. Meanwhile, Turkey continues to demand that Sweden crackdown on Kurdish groups and has accused Stockholm of hosting "terrorists."
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