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Finland sticks with Sweden in Nato bid despite Turkish objections

‘Finnish and Swedish security go together’ says foreign minister

Essi Lehto
Tuesday 31 January 2023 08:36 GMT
NATO: Finland considers membership bid without Sweden

Finland still wants to join Nato alongside Sweden and hopes to do so by July, despite objections from Turkey.

The Nordic nations applied last year to join Nato following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but Turkey suspended talks last week after protests in Stockholm that included the burning of a Quran.

Turkey's president Tayyip Erdogan suggested on Sunday that Ankara could agree to Finland joining ahead of Sweden, but this was dismissed on Monday by Finnish foreign minister Pekka Haavisto.

“Our strong wish is still to join Nato together with Sweden,” Haavisto told a news conference in Helsinki.

“We have underlined to all our future Nato, including Hungary and Turkey, that Finnish and Swedish security go together,” he said.

Sweden's foreign ministry declined to comment.

Of Nato’s 30 members, only Turkey and Hungary are yet to ratify the Nordic countries' membership applications.

Presidential and parliamentary elections will be held in Turkey in May and many analysts believe that it will be hard to make progress before that.

But Haavisto said he still hoped Finland and Sweden would become NATO members in the next few months.

Finland’s border with Russia (Lehtikuva)

“I still see the NATO summit in Vilnius in July as an important milestone when I hope that both counties will be accepted as NATO members at the latest,” Haavisto said.

Finland and Sweden had been hoping for a rapid accession process and were taken by surprise by Turkey's objections.

Turkey wants Sweden, in particular, to take a clearer stance against what it sees as terrorists, mainly Kurdish militants and a group it blames for a 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

Sweden has said it takes Turkey's security concerns seriously and is implementing the three-way agreement signed in June last year, but Ankara says it is not doing enough.

That led to speculation Finland, which shares an 810-mile border with Russia, could proceed without Sweden.

But Haavisto said security assurances from the United States, Britain and other Nato members meant that Finland could be patient.

“We appreciate those security assurances very much even if we understand that it is not the same as the Nato Article 5, but it is very important for us,” he said.

Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, Nato’s founding document, commits all members to mutual defence, stating that an attack against one is an attack against all.

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