Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives at the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, June 29, 2022.
Nacho Duce | Reuters
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dealt another blow to Sweden’s bid for NATO, suggesting that his government might accept Finland’s application to join NATO without its northern neighbour.
Finland and Sweden both formally applied to join the 73-year-old defense alliance in May last year, reversing a longstanding policy of non-alignment in the wake of Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine. The two have vowed to take their steps forward in tandem.
Erdogan, Angry with the Swedish government for a number of reasons, is about to make or break both countries’ plans to join NATO, as each country’s application requires the unanimous approval of all 30 current members. Hungary is the only country besides Turkey that has not yet agreed to the Nordic bids, which the rest of the member states want to expedite.
“We may be sending Finland a different message [on their application]Sweden will be shocked when they see our letter. “Finland should not make the same mistake that Sweden made,” Erdogan said in a speech on Sunday.
Comments come days later Erdogan threatened Sweden’s membership in NATO because of the burning of the Qur’an led by right-wing extremists and signed in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, something Swedish authorities condemned but said was legal under the country’s freedom of expression laws.
“Those who allow such blasphemy in front of our embassy can no longer expect us to support their NATO membership,” Erdogan said on January 23.
Swedish Foreign Minister Anne Linde and Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto attend a press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, after the signing of their countries’ accession protocols at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on July 5, 2022.
Eve Hermann | Reuters
Turkey’s hostility towards Sweden is mainly concentrated Sweden’s support for Kurdish groups that Ankara considers terrorist Or affiliated with militants, and on the arms embargo imposed by Sweden and Finland, along with other European Union countries, on Turkey for its targeting of Kurdish militias in Syria.
Finland lifted the nearly three-year-old arms embargo on Turkey just last week as part of its efforts to improve relations between the two countries and bring itself one step closer to winning the NATO bid.
But the relationship between Stockholm and Ankara does not currently show any signs of improvement.
Things flared up after the Koran burning episode in the Swedish capital and Kurdish activists protested against Erdogan just days before. Finland’s foreign minister called for a “timeout” in talks with Turkey about the accession of the Nordic countries to NATO.
“There is a need for a timeout before we go back to the trilateral talks and see where we are when the dust settles after the current situation, so no conclusions should be drawn yet… I think there will be a break for two weeks,” Becca Haavisto told Reuters in an interview published on January 24. “.
The Swedish leadership bluntly said that it would not be able to satisfy all of Turkey’s demands. Meanwhile, Turkey has kind of given her a deadline.
“Turkey maintains that we did what we said we would do, but they also say they want things that we cannot or do not want to give them,” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said in early January. However, he expressed confidence that Turkey would agree to his country’s NATO request.
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin recently said that Sweden has eight to ten weeks to make the changes demanded by Ankara as the Turkish Parliament may go into recess before the country’s crucial presidential elections on May 14. Sweden says it needs another six months to make these changes.
Finland has not yet commented on how joining NATO without its neighbor and close ally Sweden might affect its plans to join the alliance.
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