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7 Feb, 2023 14:55

Finnish president speaks on chances of NATO bid without Sweden

The idea of applying separately has been reportedly raised due to a diplomatic spat with Türkiye 
Finnish president speaks on chances of NATO bid without Sweden

Helsinki is still determined to join NATO alongside Stockholm, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto has said. The two Nordic countries applied in tandem, but due to differences in their relationships with bloc member Türkiye, their bids may be viewed separately by Ankara.

“We have received different signals from Türkiye. Our stance is clear: We will join NATO with Sweden. Our goal is that both Finland and Sweden move forward together,” Sauli Niinisto said on Tuesday, during a joint press conference with Canadian Governor General Mary Simon.

Finland and Sweden both announced their bids for NATO membership after Russia began its military operation in Ukraine in February of last year. Türkiye, along with Hungary, are the last two NATO member states who have yet to ratify the applications.

Problems arose after Danish far-right politician Rasmus Paludan, who also holds Swedish citizenship, led a protest in Stockholm and burned the Koran in front of the Turkish embassy last month. The rally was officially approved by Swedish officials, despite Türkiye’s repeated warnings. Ankara is putting the brakes on Stockholm’s NATO bid, with Finland caught in stand-off.

Citing insider sources, Daily Iltalehti wrote on Monday that the Finnish government was ready to join the military alliance without Stockholm.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in late January: “We may respond differently to Finland if necessary. Sweden will be shocked when we give a different response for Finland.” Erdogan added that Helsinki should not “make the same mistakes” as their neighbor.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said on Tuesday that Stockholm was prepared to talk to Ankara when it is ready.