Turkey could block Finland, Sweden NATO membership, NATO chief reacts

Turkey could block Finland, Sweden NATO membership. Image: @MevlutCavusoglu/ Twitter

TENSIONS are beginning to mount as Finland and Sweden begin to launch their applications for NATO membership, with Turkey the latest country to show signs of opposing the move.

With Russia continuing to threaten both Finland and Sweden – or any country that backs them – with nuclear action if they join NATO, Turkey have emerged as a potential stumbling block for the two nations.

Speaking on Sunday, May 15, Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that both countries need to lift export bans on Turkey and cease supporting terrorist groups within their own countries if they were to approve the countries membership in NATO.

Turkey deems Sweden’s PKK Kurdish militant group a terrorist threat – as do the European Union and the United States – and as such needs assurances that they will stop supporting them.

 

“There absolutely needs to be security guarantees here. They need to stop supporting terrorist organisations,” Cavusoglu told Turkish reporters in Berlin following NATO foreign ministers’ meeting.

“Our stance is perfectly open and clear. This is not a threat, this is not a negotiation where we’re trying to leverage our interests,” he said.

“This is not populism either. This is clearly about two potential member states’ support for terrorism, and our solid observations about it, this is what we shared.”

However, despite apparent conditions placed on Finland and Sweden by Turkey ahead of their NATO membership bid, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Sunday, May 15 that Turkey was not blocking membership bids by Sweden and Finland.

“Turkey made it clear that its intention is not to block membership,” Stoltenberg told reporters virtually after alliance foreign ministers met in Berlin.

“I am confident we’ll be able to find common ground, consensus on how to move on membership issues,” Stoltenberg said.

On Sunday, May 15, Finland formally announced its intention of applying for NATO membership.

In a joint news conference held at Helsinki’s Presidential Palace, Sauli Niinisto, the country’s President, and Sanna Marin, the Finnish Prime Minister, both confirmed this move – which is thought of as surprising from a country that has remained neutral for more than 75 years.

In related news, on Saturday, May 14, Russia suspended electricity to Finland.

Moscow claimed that Finland had not paid their bill – which Russia has been requesting companies do in Rubles – and would therefore not be able to supply the country will energy.

 

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Written by

Matthew Roscoe

Originally from the UK, Matthew is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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