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Erdogan hints that Finland could join NATO without Sweden DW 30/01/2023

Erdogan hints that Finland could join NATO without Sweden DW 30/01/2023


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hinted that Ankara may approve Finland’s application for NATO membership before making a decision on Sweden’s candidacy.

The NATO military alliance is due to hold a summit in July in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. Hungary and Turkey are the only two countries in the alliance that have not ratified the membership of Sweden and Finland, which requires the unanimous agreement of all member states.

What did Erdogan say about Finland’s NATO candidacy?

Erdogan said in a pre-recorded video released on Sunday in which he is seen addressing young people in the central-western province of Bilecek that Turkey might choose to approve Finland’s NATO membership and not Sweden.

“If necessary, we could give a different message on Finland,” Erdogan said. “Sweden will be shocked when we deliver a different message about Finland.”

“If you absolutely want to join NATO, you will send these terrorists back to us,” Erdogan said, referring to Ankara’s demands that Sweden extradite Kurdish militants.

Earlier this week, Finland hinted it could join the NATO military alliance separately from Sweden if progress is not made on Stockholm’s bid.

“We still have to assess the situation if it turns out that Sweden’s candidacy remains stagnant for a long time,” Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said.

In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland jointly applied for NATO membership, ending their long-standing military non-alignment.

Tensions between Turkey and Sweden

Turkey has accused Stockholm of backing Kurdish militants and groups it accuses of carrying out a failed coup attempt in 2016.

Ankara was also angered by Danish-Swedish far-right activist Rasmus Paludan, who set fire to a copy of the Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm. Following the far-right protest, Erdogan told Sweden not to count on Turkey’s support for Stockholm’s NATO bid.

Norway, Denmark and Sweden have issued travel advisories urging Turkish citizens to avoid large gatherings due to protests over the Paludan Quran burning. On Saturday, Turkey followed suit and issued a travel advisory for Europe, citing a risk of “Islamophobic, xenophobic and racist attacks”.

Earlier this month, Turkey summoned the Swedish ambassador over a video showing an effigy of Erdogan hanging from a rope during a protest in Stockholm.

sdi/fb (AP, AFP)




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