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2 Jun, 2022 14:52

Finland compares NATO delay to ‘purgatory’

Helsinki wasn’t ready for such complications on its way to becoming a member of the US-led bloc, its top diplomat admitted
Finland compares NATO delay to ‘purgatory’

Opposition from Turkey has turned the process of joining NATO into “purgatory” for Finland, the country's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto complained on Wednesday. 

With bids by Helsinki and neighboring Sweden stalled for two weeks now, Haavisto expressed hope that an announcement on the enlargement of the US-led military bloc could still be made at its scheduled summit in Madrid in late June. 

The possibility of Helsinki and Stockholm joining NATO by the end of 2022 remained, but a scenario in which the process dragged on also couldn’t be ruled out, he told reporters. 

Due to the stance of the Turkish authorities, Finland has found itself in “a sort of a purgatory, which we weren’t prepared for in this form,” Haavisto acknowledged. 

Finland and Sweden, who stayed out of NATO during the Cold War, decided to join the bloc in the wake of the Russian offensive in Ukraine. The Nordic nations filed their applications in mid-May and hoped for a swift accession, after being backed by the US and most other members. 

But Ankara suddenly said that it could block the Finnish and Swedish bids, accusing the two countries of being “guesthouses for terrorist organizations” due to them hosting members of Kurdish groups that have been outlawed in Turkey.  

The Croatian president also declared that Zagreb should obstruct their applications unless the bloc addressed the alleged legal persecution of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  

A consensus from all NATO states is needed to add a new member to the alliance.

The Turkish government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan now wants Helsinki and Stockholm to clamp down on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and other groups it considers ‘terrorist’, as well as deport some suspects to Ankara. Its other demand is for Sweden and Finland to lift restrictions on arms trade with Turkey.   

The talks between the sides have so far been fruitless, with Haavisto saying during a press-conference on Wednesday that “together with Sweden we will do our homework and prepare for the questions Turkey has.” 

“Now, we need strong nerves and perseverance” to continue looking for ways to overcome the deadlock, the Finnish FM insisted.