Turkey has reiterated its reservations about Finland and Sweden joining NATO, but has signaled its willingness to talk. His country has always been in favor of an “open-door policy,” said Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Saturday evening at the start of informal consultations with the other foreign ministers of the alliance states in Berlin.
However, Finland and Sweden support “terrorist organizations” such as the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK and the Kurdish militia YPG in Syria.
The day before, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said that Scandinavian countries were downright “guesthouses for terrorist organizations”. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) expressed her irritation at Turkey’s positioning.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened Finland with consequences if it joins NATO. In a telephone conversation with Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö, he called the plans a mistake. Russia does not pose a threat to the neighboring country, Putin emphasized during the talks on Saturday, according to the Kremlin. Finland’s departure from traditional neutrality will lead to a deterioration in the previously good neighborly relations.
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Finland’s Foreign Minister Haavisto and his Swedish counterpart Ann Linde are guests at the NATO consultations in Berlin. Finland and neighboring Sweden are close partners of NATO, but are not official members.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered an intense NATO debate in both countries. Both countries are now about to submit an official application for admission.
Haavisto said in Berlin: “I am sure that we will find a solution to this matter.” However, he could not promise that everything could be solved in one night. Regarding Turkey’s accusations, the Finn said that the fight against terrorism is a very important issue for his country. As evidence, he cited Finland’s participation in the international coalition against the terrorist organization Islamic State (IS).
Baerbock had already said at noon that in her view every democratic country should actually be pleased if democracies with strong defense capabilities made the joint alliance stronger. She would “very, very much support” the accession of Finland and Sweden, she said at the end of discussions with her colleagues from the group of leading democratic industrial nations (G7) on the Baltic Sea. Chancellor Scholz had also reaffirmed his support.
The German Foreign Minister stressed that it was not NATO that was pushing Finland and Sweden into joining, but Putin’s actions. The two countries are solid democracies that have lived in peace with all their neighbors for decades.
Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn called on Turkey in Berlin to give up its resistance to the possible admission of Sweden and Finland. “If both countries want that, and that seems to be going in this direction, then none of the 30 countries can oppose it,” he said, referring to the NATO member states. Asselborn emphasized: “NATO is developing from brain death in 2019 to rebirth in 2022 – thanks to Putin.”
Asselborn was referring to statements by French President Emmanuel Macron. He had repeatedly publicly described the defense alliance as “brain dead” and left no doubt up to the Ukraine war that in the long term he would rather build a European defense union than strengthen NATO.
Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra called for unity and calm. “In cases like this, it’s always important to stay cool and composed,” he said. “This is clearly a time when unity is required.” Basically, however, he was optimistic.
He is sure that one will be able to deliver on the subject of unity, he said. Norway’s Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt spoke of a “historic moment” with regard to Finland’s and Sweden’s intentions to join. (dpa)