By Matthew Roscoe • 19 May 2022 • 8:16
Croatia latest NATO country to reportedly block Finland and Sweden membership. Image: Niels Bosman/ Unsplash
Croatia’s president, Zoran Milanovic, has called for the country’s NATO representative, Mario Nobilo, to block Finland and Sweden’s NATO move until Bosnia and Herzegovina’s electoral law is changed – a move that would make it easier for Bosnian Croats to get their representatives elected to leadership positions.
Milanovic said that Croats in Bosnia are “being destroyed” as a political entity.
“That is not an act against Finland and Sweden but it is for Croatia,” Milanović said on Wednesday, May 18.
Milanović highlighted Turkey as an example of fighting for national interests.
“Turkey certainly will not move away from the table before it gets what it wants,” Milanović said.
On Wednesday, May 18, Turkey blocked Nato’s initial decision to process requests by Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance, according to reports.
Citing a person with direct knowledge of the matter, a report from the Financial Times stated that “the postponement raises doubt that Nato will be able to approve the first stage of Finland’s and Sweden’s applications within one or two weeks, as secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg indicated.”
“It also sets the stage for several days of intense diplomacy between the US, Turkey, Finland and Sweden over the issue,” the person said.
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.”
Regarding his own objections, Milanović said that the issues were of importance to Croatia.
“We can talk about Ukraine, but that is not a burning problem for us. This is,” he said.
“I want Croatian interests in Bosnia and Herzegovina to be modified within the framework of the Dayton (Peace Accords).”
“Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina are more important to me than the entire Russian-Finish border,” Milanović underscored.
“Let’s look at what Turkey is doing,” he added.
“It certainly will not go empty-handed yet it is seeking a lot. While we are seeking very little in B&H, a country for which we are guarantors in the Dayton (Accord).”
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.
On Tuesday, May 17, Sweden formally announced its intention of applying for NATO membership.
Sweden’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Ann Linde, said: “Just signed a historic indication letter to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg from the Swedish Government. Our NATO application is now formally signed.”
Russia has continued to threaten both Finland and Sweden – or any country that backs them – with nuclear action if they join NATO.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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