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Foreign Minister Haavisto: Road to Nato remains open for Finland and Sweden

Finland does not expect progress on ratification of its Nato membership before Turkish elections in May, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) told Yle.

Pekka Haavisto.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto (Green) spoke on the Yle current affairs programme Ykkösaamu on Saturday. Image: Sakari Piippo / Yle
Yle News

According to Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green), Finland and Sweden will continue their joint journey towards Nato membership.

"In my view, the road to Nato has not closed for either country," Haavisto said on the Yle current affairs programme Ykkösaamu on Saturday.

On Monday, Turkey broke off three-way negotiations with Finland and Sweden on ratification of the two Nordic countries' membership bids. The negotiations were cancelled after several incidents in Stockholm, including a Koran burning.

After the latest incident, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Sweden "should not expect support from us for Nato".

At the time, Haavisto hinted that Finland was also considering the option that Turkey would not ratify Sweden's Nato membership, and that it might have to join alone.

"Of course, we have to assess the situation; [whether] something has happened that would prevent the progress of the Swedish project in the longer term," he said.

Later, however, Haavisto moderated his statement. In the Ykkösaamu interview, he said that in his view nothing irreversible has happened in the matter.

"The general assessment is that this represents an extension of time from the Turkish side, and that the matter can be revisited after the Turkish elections," he said.

Turkey is preparing for presidential and parliamentary elections in May. Finland does not expect progress in ratifying Nato membership before then, he said.

Close communication

According to Haavisto, he has maintained close contacts with Turkey, even though the tripartite negotiations are on hold.

On Monday he had a phone conversation with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in which they discussed the status of the Finnish and Swedish applications and Turkey's reactions to the demonstrations held in Stockholm, according to Haavisto. The two had previously spoken in late December.

According to Haavisto, the security of Finland and Sweden forms an entity in Nato's view. Finland and Sweden have a long history of bilateral defence cooperation, which has intensified since the two countries submitted their Nato membership applications together last May.

"In a possible crisis situation in the Baltic Sea region, Sweden is our closest partner, also because of geography. Considering Nato's defence planning, Sweden will be a very important part of the region's security," said Haavisto.

Turkey and Hungary are the only Nato member states yet to ratify the Finnish and Swedish applications to join the alliance, which requires unanimous approval.

The other three Nordic countries have been members of the alliance since it was founded in 1949.

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