Turkey could evaluate Finland’s NATO bid separately from Sweden
Turkey could evaluate Finland’s NATO bid independently of Sweden’s, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on January 30, after protests, including the burning of a Koran in Stockholm, angered Ankara.
“It is a fair approach to put a difference between a problematic country and a less problematic country. We can evaluate (Finnish and Swedish) NATO applications separately if NATO and those countries make a decision about it,” Çavuşoğlu said.
Sweden and Finland applied last year to join NATO after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and need the approval of all member states to join. Turkey and Hungary have not yet ratified the Nordic countries’ membership.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has pushed the debate over NATO expansion into a campaign ahead of Turkey’s close presidential and parliamentary elections in May, rallying his supporters.
Turkey is never against NATO expansion, Çavuşoğlu added. But the steps Sweden has taken under a trilateral agreement signed last year are not enough, he said.
Last week, Turkey suspended NATO talks with Sweden and Finland regarding the protests in Stockholm. Erdoğan signaled on January 29 that Ankara may agree to Finland joining NATO before Sweden.
Turkey says that Sweden, in particular, harbors what it says are militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984.