Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto expressed optimism that “sooner or later, Finland and Sweden will be members of NATO” and said discussions with the Turkish government would continue as Ankara threatens to block the two nations from joining the defensive alliance.
In an interview with CNN in Washington, DC, Friday, Haavisto said he expected that the topic of Finland’s NATO membership and overcoming Turkey’s current opposition would come up in his conversations with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his meeting later in the day, adding he was “quite confident” that other NATO countries had spoken with Turkey as well.
Delegations from Finland and Sweden – which both formally applied for NATO membership last week – traveled to Turkey earlier this week for talks on NATO accession. All current NATO members must approve new members.
Haavisto, who did not attend the talks, called it a “good meeting,” and said it lasted for five hours. Haavisto indicated that there are European and Finnish laws and policies in place that guide Finland’s actions on Turkey’s main demands – the designation the PKK as a terrorist organization, lifting arms export controls, the extradition of Kurdish militants that Turkey sees as terrorists. However, Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said following the delegation’s visit that “if Turkey’s security concerns are not met with concrete steps, the process cannot progress.”
Haavisto said “there was an agreement to continue those discussions,” but a next round of talks has not yet been arranged.
“From our perspective, the time frame is essential, because we are, of course, looking forward to NATO Summit in Madrid,” which is at the end of June, “and we hope that during the NATO Summit, the new members would be welcomed, at least, and the NATO ‘Open Door Policy’ would be confirmed, but of course, this is up to each and every member state that they can also influence the process,” he said.
The decisions by Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO was a major shift prompted by Russia’s war in Ukraine.