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Haavisto "optimistic" that issues with Turkey will be resolved, but may take weeks

The foreign minister said Finland could assure Turkey that possible links to PKK terror will be monitored more closely.

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto spoke with Yle during a Greens party conference in Joensuu on Sunday. Image: Jani Saikko / Yle

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) expects that Finland and Turkey will resolve issues related to Finland's Nato application, but predicted that it make take a few weeks.

On Saturday, President Sauli Niinistö called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss Finland's membership in Nato and the conditions set by Turkey for Finland and Sweden. The neighbouring countries filed their applications in tandem last week.

Erdogan has vowed to block the two countries' Nato membership, alleging that they support Kurdish terrorist groups.

Haavisto told Yle on Sunday that negotiations will continue at the official level. Haavisto anticipates that the problems between the countries will be resolved, but does not expect any rapid progress in the negotiations.

"A few days ago I said that this would at least be a matter of days. So just to be cautious, one could now say that it will be a matter of weeks. I'm optimistic that the problems will be solved, but it may take some time," Haavisto told Yle at the Greens party conference in Joensuu, eastern Finland.

Discussions with Turkey on Nato membership are taking place in parallel with Sweden. Haavisto pointed out that one deadline is the Nato summit in Madrid at the end of June. By then, the Nato organisation is also expected to clarify matters.

Finland classes PKK as terror group

Turkey's list of demands has included the extradition of individuals that it has classified as terrorists, and the easing of arms embargoes imposed due to Ankara's incursion into northern Syria in 2019. That was aimed against the Kurdish People’s Defence Units (YPG), which is says is linked to the Kurdish militant group PKK.

Finland has emphasised that it lists the PKK as a terrorist organisation, in line with EU policy. Haavisto noted that in Saturday's calls the two presidents discussed Finland's track record of work against terrorism.

Haavisto suggested that Finland could provide assurances to Turkey that any possible links to PKK terrorism will be monitored more closely.

"We can certainly give such guarantees to Turkey. Since the PKK is listed as a terrorist organisation in Europe, it's important that we do our part not to allow any preparations for terrorist activity on Finnish soil," he said.

Arms embargoes reviewed on case-by-case basis

However, Finland cannot extradite people allegedly linked to the organisation to Turkey in violation of the rule of law.

"It is important to clarify the structure of the rule of law. Political decisions cannot affect the functioning of the judicial system. This is a principle that we have set in stone," the foreign minister and former UN official explained.

Finland's arms embargoes, on the other hand, are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Finland does not have a general ban on arms exports to Turkey, but the grounds for any such ban includes an assessment of the risk of weapons ending up in conflict zones, among other issues.

"It's important that Finnish weapons do not become involved in a war without our knowledge," Haavisto said.