Haavisto: Finland has patience to wait for Nato membership — with Sweden

Finland is still planning to join Nato alongside Sweden, Finnish Foreign Affairs Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) said at a press briefing held in Helsinki on Monday afternoon.

He was responding to suggestion by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Turkey could ratify Finland’s accession to the defence alliance without Sweden.

The Nordic countries applied for Nato last year at the same time.

However, Turkey has refused to approve Finland and Sweden’s accession to the alliance. Ankara has been most hesitant about Sweden, which has seen large-scale protests against Turkey in recent weeks. Sweden has a larger population of Kurds than Finland.

Erdogan also reacted very negatively to a protest in Sweden during which a far-right Danish-Swedish provocateur burned a copy of the Koran.

“We may deliver Finland a different message [on their NATO application] and Sweden would be shocked when they see our message. But Finland should not make the same mistake Sweden did,” Erdogan said on Sunday, according to Reuters.

However, the following day, Haavisto said that Finland does not want to leave Sweden behind in the accession process.

“Sweden is our closest ally in defence and foreign policy,” the minister said, adding that he sees a planned Nato meeting in Vilnius in July as an “important milestone” by which time he expects both Nordic countries will be alliance members.

“Our strong desire in Finland has been and still is to join Nato together with Sweden,” Haavisto said.

When a reporter asked how long Finland could wait for Sweden, Haavisto said: “We have patience.”

Out of Nato’s 30 members, Turkey and Hungary are the only remaining states yet to ratify Finland and Sweden’s applications to join the alliance.

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