Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Finland's Top Diplomat Hints at Joining NATO Without Sweden

Tue 24 Jan 2023 | 04:21 PM
By Ahmad El-Assasy

If Turkey continues to obstruct their combined application to join the military alliance, Finland's foreign minister warned on Tuesday that the country may think about joining NATO without its neighbour Sweden.

Pekka Haavisto eventually changed his mind, but at the moment when NATO is attempting to show a unified front in the face of Russia's war in Ukraine, his statements were the first time a top government official in either Nordic country appeared to cast doubt on joining forces.

Following Moscow's invasion, Sweden and Finland quickly abandoned their long-standing non-alignment stance and applied for membership in NATO.

All current NATO members must agree to their inclusion, including Turkey, which has so far resisted the move, claiming that Sweden in particular needs to take action against terrorist Kurdish exiles and their supporters.

Following the weekend demonstrations in Stockholm by an anti-Islam activist and pro-Kurdish groups, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cautioned Sweden once more not to expect support for its application.

When asked the following day if moving forward with the Swedes still made sense, Haavisto responded to broadcaster YLE that his nation would need to "consider the issue if it turns out that Sweden's application is delaying for a long time to come."

Later, Haavisto informed reporters in the House of Representatives that his remark was "imprecise" and that Finland's desire to join NATO alongside Sweden remained unaltered.

He claimed to have spoken with Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary-general of NATO, who had emphasised to Haavisto that the military alliance preferred to see the two countries join simultaneously.