By Matthew Roscoe • 21 June 2022 • 11:20
Finland has made no progress in its meeting with Turkey and will probably not be able to join NATO until September, according to Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö.
Speaking at a joint press conference in Helsinki with the President of the European Parliament (EP) Roberta Metsola, Mr Niinistö said: “In essence, there was not much progress at the meeting [with Turkey and Sweden at NATO headquarters on June 20], but we are already pleased that the discussion has begun.
“I would not like to give exact dates, but it is unlikely that we will be able to do this [join NATO] before September,” he said.
Sweden and Finland applied to join the Western defence alliance last month but have since faced opposition from Turkey.
On Monday, June 20 at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, representatives of the three countries discussed “the security concerns raised by Turkey in order to make progress in considering the applications of Finland and Sweden to join the alliance.”
“Getting an opportunity for everyone to meet is already progress, it [the organisation of the meeting] took quite a long time. We agreed that the meetings will continue,” the president added.
After Finland and Sweden simultaneously handed in their official letters of application to join NATO on Wednesday, May 18, Turkey voiced its opposition to the move.
A report from the Financial Times at the time indicated that “Turkey has blocked Nato’s initial decision to process requests by Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance.”
Citing a person with direct knowledge of the matter, the report 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.
These talks have continued and no resolution has been made.
The President of Turkey, a member of NATO, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the country cannot support the entry of Finland and Sweden into the union. He noted that his country cannot support the accession of those countries that have imposed sanctions against Turkey.
In fact, on Sunday, May 15, Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu outlined the problem.
He said that both countries needed 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 at the time.
“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.”
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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 [email protected]
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