Finnish Chancellor suggests NATO membership without Sweden

STOCKHOLM (HPD) — Finland’s foreign minister appeared to suggest Tuesday that his country may have to join NATO without Sweden after Turkey’s president questioned expanding the military alliance.

“We still have to assess the situation if it turns out that Sweden’s application is stalled for a long time,” Finnish diplomacy chief Pekka Haavisto told public broadcaster YLE.

His remarks came a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Sweden not to expect support for his NATO bid following weekend protests by an anti-Islam activist and pro-Kurdish groups in Stockholm. .

Sweden’s and Finland’s landmark application to join the alliance needs the approval of all members of the group, including Turkey, which has so far blocked the expansion, claiming that Sweden, in particular, must crack down on exiled Kurdish insurgents. there and his supporters.

Until now, Sweden and Finland had pledged to enter the alliance together, but Haavisto’s words seemed to suggest that his country may be considering going ahead without its Nordic neighbour.

“We are in contact with Finland to find out what it really means,” Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said in a statement to The Associated Press. “Sweden respects the agreement between Sweden, Finland and Turkey about our NATO membership. We have done it so far and we will continue to do so.

In a memorandum of understanding signed by the three nations at an alliance summit last year, Stockholm and Helsinki pledged not to support Kurdish insurgent groups and to lift the arms embargoes they placed against Ankara after their incursion into northern Turkey. Syria in 2019.

The pro-Kurdish and anti-Turkish mobilizations in the Swedish capital have complicated the process. On Saturday, a Danish far-right activist protested outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, where he burned a Koran, Islam’s holy book. Another pro-Kurdish rally was held later in the day.

The Swedish government has tried to distance itself from such acts while insisting that they fall under the country’s freedom of expression.

Turkey responded angrily to the protests, canceling the Swedish Defense Minister’s planned visit to Ankara. In addition, there were protests outside the Swedish diplomatic missions both in the Turkish capital and in Istanbul.

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