Skip to content

Vanhanen: Finland will stick by Sweden even if Turkey slows Nato bids

"The bond between Finland and Sweden is strong. We don’t abandon our partners," the Speaker of Parliament said.

Speaker of Parliament Matti Vanhanen was a guest on TV1's Ykkösaamu on Saturday. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Speaker of Parliament Matti Vanhanen (Cen) said he is not worried about Finland's Nato membership application despite Turkey's threats to veto it.

Finland, which applied for Nato membership this past week, was expecting quick talks, but Turkey has delayed matters.

Interviewed on Yle's Ykkösaamu current affairs programme on Saturday, the former PM said that Finland's accession to Nato will certainly be implemented.

"Yes, that's for sure. Previous Nato accession processes have taken at least four months and some well over a year. Time will tell," Vanhanen said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that he will not accept Finland and Sweden as members of Nato.

Turkey has submitted lists of demands to Finland and Sweden, saying they must be fulfilled as a precondition for Turkey to support the start of membership negotiations with the two Nordic countries.

Turkish media reported on Friday that talks would take place between Turkish and Finnish leaders on Saturday.

Vanhanen said he did not know what kind of talks were planned or underway. He said it is important that Finland finds out immediately about Turkey's demands and that a confrontation between Turkey and Finland be avoided.

"The situation on the Turkish side will probably not change until discussions take place. It will then be seen how much of this is an issue between Turkey and Sweden and how much about something within Nato," Vanhanen said.

"Innocent people won't be extradited"

Among other things, Turkey has demanded that the people it considers to be terrorists be extradited from Finland and Sweden to Turkey and that restrictions on arms exports be lifted.

"On the points concerning our rule of law, Turkey must realise that we cannot agree to [change them] politically. Innocent people are not extradited to another country, especially if there is a risk that they will be imprisoned or sentenced without justification. As to the most practical issues, such as arms exports, we must find out what exactly Turkey expects," he said.

Turkey's rhetoric has been somewhat harsher against Sweden than Finland. Vanhanen stressed that Finland will remain alongside Sweden, even if there is a situation where Turkey would accept more rapid progress on Finland's membership than Sweden's.

"The bond between Finland and Sweden is strong. We certainly won’t break it; we don’t abandon our partners," Vanhanen added.

Vanhanen was prime minister from 2003 to 2010 and finance minister from mid-2020 until a year ago. He has also been defence minister and a two-time presidential candidate.