Finland’s foreign minister does not expect progress on his country’s and Sweden’s NATO membership ahead of Turkey’s elections in May, but believes the Scandinavian countries will remain on track to eventually join the military alliance, the Finnish public broadcaster reported. Yle Saturday.
“In my opinion, the road to NATO is not closed for either country,” said Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, according to Yle.
Finland and Sweden are seeking to join NATO after Moscow’s attack on Ukraine sparked renewed security concerns across the region. But Turkey has raised objections before – and under NATO rules, only one member state can veto the membership of a new candidate.
Haavisto’s comments come days after Ankara called for the postponement of a meeting between Turkey, Sweden and Finland in February, according to Turkish state broadcaster TRT Haber, citing unnamed diplomatic sources.
How it came to this: Turkish-Swedish relations suffered a serious blow last week after Stockholm police authorized a protest outside Stockholm’s Turkish embassy last Saturday, during which anti-immigration politician Rasmus Paludan set fire to a copy of the Quran. Protesters quickly took to the streets in the Turkish capital, where some set fire to the Swedish flag outside the embassy in response.
Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu reported on Thursday that the meeting on Sweden and Finland’s NATO applications has been postponed in light of the current “unhealthy political climate”.
The three countries have met in the past under the “trilateral memorandum” to discuss Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership applications.
An upcoming visit by the Swedish defense minister to Turkey was also canceled by Ankara in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s incident.
Speaking to DailyExpertNews’s Isa Soares on Tuesday, Finland’s foreign minister said “there is some delay due to recent events”, adding “of course this is not good news”.
Haavisto indicated that there are no plans for Finland to continue its NATO membership without its Nordic neighbour. “We are in no hurry, we have time to go together with Sweden,” he told DailyExpertNews.
DailyExpertNews’s Niamh Kennedy and Amy Cassidy contributed reporting to this entry.