Finland still wants to join NATO along with Sweden
Finland maintains its plan to join NATO at the same time as Sweden, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said, quoted by Reuters.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan signaled on Sunday that Ankara could agree to Finland joining NATO before Sweden amid rising tensions with Stockholm, and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Monday made similar statements.
“Our strong desire is still to join NATO together with Sweden,” Haavisto told a news conference in Helsinki. He added that he still considers the NATO summit in Vilnius in July an important event where he hopes that the two countries will be accepted as NATO members at the latest.
Erdogan has criticized Sweden’s refusal to extradite dozens of people he says are linked to Kurdish militant groups and other critics of his government. “If you really want to join NATO, you will return these terrorists to us,” the president stressed.
His comments came days after Turkey suspended talks on accepting the two Scandinavian nations.
Most recently, Ankara was angered by Koran-burning protests organized outside the Turkish embassies in Stockholm and Copenhagen by an anti-Islam activist who holds Swedish and Danish citizenship.
Swedish authorities condemned the protests but defended the country’s free speech laws.
In his speech, Erdogan hinted that Turkey may now “give a different answer as far as Finland is concerned”, adding that “Sweden will be shocked”.
The more problematic side
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said today that Ankara could give the green light to Finland’s NATO membership before Sweden if the defense alliance and the two Scandinavian countries agree to it, the Associated Press reported, quoted by BTA.
Cavusoglu described Finland’s bid as “less problematic” than Sweden’s.
In my opinion, it would be fair to distinguish between the problem country and the less problem country, Cavusoglu told journalists at a joint press conference with his visiting Portuguese counterpart.
We believe that if NATO and these countries make such a decision, we can evaluate (Finland’s candidacy) individually, the Turkish foreign minister said.
Sweden and Finland jointly applied to become members of the military alliance, abandoning their long-standing military non-alignment following Russia’s war on Ukraine. NATO requires unanimous approval to accept new members, but Turkey and Hungary have yet to ratify the applications.
“Some steps have been taken in Sweden such as constitutional amendments and legal amendments,” Çavuşoğlu said. “Unfortunately, there were steps back due to the provocations of groups that want to prevent Sweden from joining NATO,” the Turkish foreign minister pointed out.