Finland and Sweden ‘optimistic’ Turkey will agree Nato application bid

Sauli Niinisto, Finnish president, says Helsinki will have ‘contructive discussions’ with Ankara

Andy Gregory
Tuesday 17 May 2022 17:39
Comments

Erdogan says Swedish and Finnish delegations should not bother coming to Turkey

Leer en Español

Finland and Sweden voiced optimism on Tuesday that they would join Nato, despite Turkey vehemently claiming it would not support their bids.

Finland’s president Sauli Niinisto said he was confident he could convince Turkey to accept its Nato application bid “with the help of constructive discussions”.

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has poured cold water on Finland and Sweden’s “historic” announcements to join the military alliance, claiming Ankara would not approve their bids.

“Statements from Turkey have very quickly changed and become harder during the last few days,” President Niinisto said during an address to Sweden’s parliament. “But I am sure that, with the help of constructive discussions, we will solve the situation.”

He added: “I am optimistic.”

Turkey surprised many Nato allies on Monday by saying it would not support membership for Sweden and Finland after the two countries took the widely anticipated step of agreeing to apply to join the US-led alliance this week.

Ankara says Sweden and Finland harbour individuals linked to groups it deems terrorists, namely the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group and followers of Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt.

“Neither of these countries have a clear, open attitude towards terrorist organisation,” said Presidnet Erdogan. “How can we trust them?”

Turkish state broadcaster TRT Haber said on Monday that Sweden and Finland had not granted approval for the repatriation of 33 people that Turkey had requested, including members of PKK and Fethullah Gulen.

Niinisto said he talked to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan a month ago and that the message then had been supportive of Finnish and Swedish membership in Nato.

Swedish foreign minister Ann Linde said that her country, just like the rest of the European Union, considered PKK a terrorist organisation. Ms Linde formally signed the country’s Nato application on Tuesday.

Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson will travel to the United States to meet President Joe Biden on Thursday to discuss the applications.

Turkey has been a member of Nato for decades

Finland’s Niinisto said quick ratification by the United States could smooth the path toward membership for the two Nordic neighbours, who joined the European Union together in 1995.

The White House said the administration was confident Nato can reach consensus about the bids.

“We know there’s a lot of support for Sweden and Finland to join Nato,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Despite Vladimir Putin appearing to back down significantly on the issue by insisting Russia had “no problem” with the countries’ Nato bids, Iceland, Denmark, Norway and France all joined the UK in pledging to defend the two nations in the event of an attack prior to their accession – a “vulnerable” period which Sweden’s premier Magdalena Andersson suggested could last up to a year.

After years of non-alignment stretching back to the end of the Napoleonic Wars in Sweden, and for more than half a century in Finland, both nations have developed strong and well-equipped militaries.

Both are among 10 countries taking part in Nato exercises currently underway in Estonia, organised prior to Mr Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which are named “Hedgehog” and billed as one of the alliance’s largest drills in the Baltics to date.

Russia’s president, meanwhile, appeared to soften his stance on the move on Monday, insisting that Moscow “does not have a problem” with Finland and Sweden’s accession to Nato, as it sees “no immediate threat to Russia”.

Instead he warned that, if the alliance were to move more troops or military hardware onto the territory of its new members – steps Finland and Sweden have both already ruled out – then that would “certainly provoke a reaction”.

Additional reporting by agencies

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in