Sunday, April 2, 2023

Finland’s Chancellor suggests NATO membership without Sweden

STOCKHOLM ( Associated Press) — Finland’s foreign minister suggested Tuesday that his country may have to join NATO without Sweden, after Turkey’s president questioned the expansion of the military alliance.

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

His comments come a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Sweden not to expect support for its NATO bid following a weekend protest by anti-Islam activist and Kurdish pro-groups in Stockholm.

Sweden and Finland’s historic application to join the alliance required the approval of all members of the grouping, including Turkey, which has so far blocked expansion, claiming that Sweden, in particular, is a threat to exiled Kurdish rebels and His supporters should be cracked down on.

Until now, Sweden and Finland had pledged to enter the alliance together, but Haavisto’s words seemed to indicate that his country might consider moving forward without its Nordic neighbor.

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

In a memorandum of understanding signed by the three countries at a coalition summit last year, Stockholm and Helsinki pledged not to support Kurdish rebel groups and to remove the weapons embargo against Ankara after their incursions into northern Turkey, Syria in 2019 .

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

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

Turkey responded angrily to the protests, canceling a planned visit by the Swedish Defense Minister to Ankara. In addition, protests took place outside Swedish diplomatic missions in the Turkish capital and Istanbul.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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