STOCKHOLM, Jan 24 (AP): Finland’s top diplomat appeared to suggest on Tuesday that the country may have to join NATO without Sweden after Turkey’s president cast doubt on the expansion of the military alliance.
“We still have to evaluate the situation if it turns out that Sweden’s application is stalling for a long time to come,” Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told Finnish broadcaster YLE.
His comment came a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Sweden not to expect support for its bid for NATO membership following weekend protests in Stockholm by an anti-Islam activist and pro-Kurdish groups.
Sweden and Finland’s historic bid to join the alliance needs the approval of all existing NATO members, including Turkey, which has so far blocked the expansion, saying Sweden in particular needs to crack down on exiled Kurdish militants and their sympathizers.
Until now, Sweden and Finland have been committed to join the alliance together, but Haavisto’s comment appeared to suggest that Finland was considering proceeding without its Nordic neighbor.
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström told YLE that “we are in contact with Finland to find out what is really meant.”