NATO aspiring to abandon neighbor – media

NATO aspiring to abandon neighbor – media

When Trkiye blocks Swedish access, Finnish media reports that Helsinki can proceed on its own

After declaring that Finland and Sweden would join NATO, the Finnish government is now preparing to leave its neighbor behind, Iltalehti daily reported on Monday, citing insider sources.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto summoned the leaders of political parties to his residence in Mantyniemi on Thursday to discuss the situation, said the outlet. At the meeting it was agreed to follow a “united line” at public appearances. Privately, however, Finland is ready to move forward alone.

“We are Russia’s border neighbor. Sweden’s geopolitical position is completely different from ours.” A source told Iltalehti and explained the rush.

Last month, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said in an interview that Helsinki should explore the options if Ankara continued to block Stockholm, but quickly went back the comments to stay in line with official government policy.

According to Iltalehti’s source, only the Left Alliance has any objections to Finland moving forward without Sweden. Since they only have 16 seats in the Finnish parliament, their opposition is irrelevant, the source said.

NATO’s official position is that both countries should be admitted at the same time. Their applications have been ratified by all members except Hungary – which is expected to approve them next month – and Trkiye. Ankara has said that it would give the green light to Finland, but that Sweden is another matter.

Sweden and Finland announced last year that they would abandon their historic neutrality and apply to join the US-led military bloc, citing the escalating conflict in Ukraine. Russia is described their moving as one “serious mistake with long-lasting consequences.”

NATO has expressed a preference for admitting both countries together. However, the government in Ankara objected, citing ongoing issues with Stockholm including an arms embargo, Kurdish activists Trkiye has classified as terrorists, and – most recently – a publicity stunt involving the burning of a Koran.

Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said last week that Stockholm failed to follow through on last summer’s agreement to go after the Kurds. “terrorists”, and that its response to the burning of the Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm was “completely unacceptable.”

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström is scheduled to visit Finland on Tuesday to discuss alternatives, according to Iltalehti. The outlet’s sources in Helsinki hope that Sweden’s new anti-terror laws – scheduled to take effect in June – can persuade Erdogan to relent.


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