The Finnish president called for stopping tripartite talks with Turkey over its NATO bid with Sweden.
“Regarding NATO membership, we have to take it calmly and we have to wait for the elections to take place in Turkey,” said President Sauli Niinisto. Turkish parliamentary elections are not scheduled until mid-June 2023.
This came after Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto hinted on Tuesday that Helsinki was considering joining the military alliance without Sweden.
Haavisto said that the two Scandinavian countries joining NATO was “absolutely the first option”, but “we have to be ready to assess the situation”.
He was later asked to clarify his comments in a hastily prepared press conference. It was “inaccurate,” Haavisto admitted, adding that Helsinki was just planning every possible outcome that might unfold in the application process — including a single push in its own NATO bid.
This stance also comes on the heels of Turkey’s move to block Sweden’s bid, in an angry reaction to the anti-Turkish protest that took place in Stockholm. Protests sparked outrage in Turkey after a Danish extremist burned a copy of the Koran outside the Turkish embassy in the Swedish capital.
The latest disruption raises doubts about the two Scandinavian countries joining NATO together.
Sweden calls for a return to the drawing table
In an effort to de-escalate tensions with Ankara, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said he wanted to re-establish “dialogue” with Turkey.
“I want to urge calm in this process because I want to get back to effective conversations on the issues where we agreed we made progress. Sweden, Finland and Turkey have a tripartite agreement and it’s going very well. We obviously don’t think alike on all issues,” he says. Christerson: “We have different legislation in our country.”
Christerson continues: “I think, as someone said, I have two thoughts in my head: We are fully committed to Swedish freedom of speech and we are very keen to complete NATO membership with Finland.”
Sweden and Finland launched their bid to join NATO when Russia invaded Ukraine nearly a year ago.
But Turkey refused to accept its offer until the two countries took steps, including joining Turkey’s war against outlawed Kurdish militants.
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