Finland reverses course, prepares to join NATO without Sweden

Finland reverses course, prepares to join NATO without Sweden

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (CN) – Finland is now ready to let Sweden into a NATO partnership because Helsinki is unwilling to stay out of the military alliance any longer than necessary.

That was the core message from Finnish President Sauli Niinist to the press on Friday, the first day of a security conference in Munich, where international leaders meet to discuss the European defense situation.

“If Turkey approves Finland’s NATO application before Sweden’s, Finland cannot do anything about it,” Niinist said.

The announcement comes just two weeks after Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin promised that Finland would not join NATO but neighboring Sweden in a joint statement with Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.

The 30 current NATO members must anonymously approve a new country’s bid to join the alliance. When the Nordic countries applied last year, Turkey was lukewarm about accepting them.

Turkey claimed the duo remains lenient with residents with links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known as the PKK, which Turkey, the EU and the US have labeled a terrorist organisation.

Diplomatic relations between Turkey and Sweden were further challenged after the Danish-Swedish far-right politician Rasmus Paludan publicly burned a Koran in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm last month.

Turkey has recently publicly declared that it is ready to welcome Finland into the alliance without its neighbor – an offer that now seems appealing to Helsinki, as a poll indicates that The Finns are not willing to wait for Sweden.

On Tuesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that it is not necessary for Finland and Sweden to join at the same time.

“The main issue is that they are both ratified as full members as soon as possible. And I am confident that both will be full members and we are working hard to get both ratified as soon as possible,” he told reporters.

Stoltenberg’s statement is the first to deviate from the previous official NATO line aimed at synchronizing the Nordic duo’s membership inputs.

“We will always respect each other’s decisions,” said Kristersson, Sweden’s prime minister, when asked about Finland’s potential acceptance before Sweden.

The steps towards Finland’s NATO membership already accelerated on Friday, when Finland’s foreign affairs committee voted for the national assembly to approve the country’s entry into the alliance, according to Norwegian newswire NTB.

Finland’s National Assembly is scheduled to vote on the legislation needed to approve the move on February 28. Although the details of the new legislation are unknown, it is already clear that Finland will not allow nuclear weapons on its soil even after becoming a member of NATO.

Initially, the plan was for Helsinki to vote on the legislation after the parliamentary elections in April, but given the changing public opinion on the security situation, officials have deemed it necessary to move forward.

“We have a 130-mile long border with Russia, but Sweden will always have Finland in between,” Jussi Halla-aho, chairman of the Finnish parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said earlier this week, according to a Swedish TV station. SVT.

Several NATO countries, including Denmark, Iceland and Norway, have already done so promised to help the two Nordic countries “by all necessary means” should they be subjected to any form of aggression during the application process.

Source: Courthouse News Service


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