Finland may consider sole NATO membership bid as Turkey presses Sweden: Minister

Published on Jan 24, 2023 01:21 PM IST

It’s the first time a Finnish policy maker signals decoupling the bids after the Nordic nations applied to join NATO in May.

"We have to assess the situation, whether something has happened that in the longer term would prevent Sweden from going ahead," Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said. (File)
"We have to assess the situation, whether something has happened that in the longer term would prevent Sweden from going ahead," Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said. (File)
Bloomberg | | Posted by Ritu Maria Johny

Finland may need to reconsider whether to move jointly with Sweden toward membership in NATO after fresh objections to Sweden from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto.

The “primary option” is still for the two countries to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization simultaneously, given the security considerations of both Finland and Sweden, Haavisto said in an interview on YLE Tuesday.

“We must now assess the situation and see if something has happened, which could block Sweden’s access to the alliance in the longer run,” Haavisto said. Still, it’s too early to take a decision now, he said.

It’s the first time a Finnish policy maker signals decoupling the bids after the Nordic nations applied to join NATO in May. Turkey has objected to their entry, but allowed the process to move forward at a NATO summit in June. It’s later said that it’s “happy” with cooperation from Finland while continuing to push Sweden to crack down more forcefully on groups that are outlawed in Turkey.

On Monday, Erdogan ruled out supporting Sweden’s application after a far-right activist burned Islam’s holy book in Stockholm at the weekend. Turkey and Hungary are the only two of NATO’s 30 members who have yet to ratify the applications. US officials on Monday reiterated their support for the Nordic bids.

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