Before joining NATO: Finland and Turkey want to settle differences

Dhe foreign ministers of Finland and Turkey want to meet later in the evening to clear up any inconsistencies about NATO accession for the northern European country. This was announced by Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavesto on Saturday before the unofficial consultations of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin. “I’m sure we will find a solution,” said Haavesto. Turkey has expressed reservations about Finland and Sweden joining the alliance and has called for talks on how the two countries should deal with the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK).

A spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier that Turkey, regardless of its criticism of Finland and Sweden, is not closing the door on their NATO accession. But Turkey wants negotiations with both countries, the spokesman said. Sweden in particular allows the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), which is banned in Turkey, to act. This affects Turkey’s national security interests. The PKK, classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the EU, is raising funds and recruiting in Europe, the spokesman said. Their presence is particularly strong in Sweden.

Finnish President spoke to Putin on the phone

The spokesman said to the governments in Helsinki and Stockholm: “You must stop allowing PKK representations, activities, organizations, individuals and other types of presence (…) in these countries.” Turkish President Erdogan had on Friday said he could not agree to NATO membership for Sweden and Finland, for which Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, among others, had criticized him at the G-7 foreign ministers’ meeting in Weissenhaus.All NATO members would have to agree to Finland’s admission, including Turkey.

On Saturday, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö called Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss his country’s plans to join NATO. Niinistö said the “direct and honest” phone call was to “avoid tension.” The Kremlin said after the phone call that Putin had “underlined to Niinistö that ending the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake as there is no threat to Finland’s security”.

The Social Democrats of Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin spoke out in favor of their country’s NATO membership on Saturday. The party explicitly positioned itself to join the defense alliance at an extraordinary governing body meeting on Saturday, the website said. According to the party, 53 of the 60 members of the party leadership voted on Saturday to join. Only five members voted against and two abstained.

Submit application for membership together with Sweden

Marin told journalists on Saturday that she hopes to submit the application for membership to NATO “together with Sweden” next week. “They have their own procedure, but of course I hope that we will make the decisions at the same time and submit our applications together,” said the Prime Minister.

This marks another decisive step on the country’s path to NATO: with the Social Democrats, a broad majority in the Finnish parliament is in favor of joining NATO. Although the decision on such an application initially lies solely with Niinistö and Marin’s government, parliamentary approval would be required before actual accession.

President Niinistö and Prime Minister Marin expressly advocated membership in the military alliance in a joint statement on Thursday. Marin reiterated this in an address to her party’s delegates on Saturday. Russia has shown that it does not respect international agreements, Marin said, according to the public broadcaster “Yle”. She added that there was only one conclusion to draw from this: it was time to join NATO. It is expected that Finland may announce a decision on its NATO membership bid as early as Sunday.

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