Erdogan: Turkey could approve the admission of Finland to NATO, but not Sweden
Ankara [Turkey], January 30: Turkish President RecepTayyip Erdogan hinted on Sunday that Turkey might approve the admission of Finland to NATO, but not Sweden.
"If necessary, we can give a different message about Finland. Sweden will be shocked when we give a different message about Finland," the Turkish head of state said about the candidacy of the two Nordic countries for admission to NATO, answering a question during a meeting with young people that she broadcast television.
Thus, for the first time, Ankara hints that it is ready to treat Finland's candidacy separately from Sweden's.
Turkey on Tuesday blocked the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO, postponing indefinitely a tripartite meeting originally scheduled for early February that was supposed to clear Ankara's objections to their candidacy.
The Turkish president warned on Monday that Sweden, which Turkey has already accused of harboring Kurdish "terrorists", can no longer count on Ankara's "support" after a far-right activist burned a copy of the Koran in Stockholm.
Without mentioning this event, the Turkish president, however, repeated his objections to Sweden regarding Turkey's demands for the extradition of the Kurds.
"We told them: 'If you want to join NATO, you have to return those terrorists to us'. We gave them a list of 120 people (...) But they laugh at us and invoke their Constitution," Erdogan said.
The fact that an anti-Islamic right-wing extremist burned a Koran near the Turkish Embassy in Sweden last week caused strong protests by Ankara and the Muslim world, and Ankara has already canceled the announced visit of the Swedish defense minister.
Stockholm condemned the burning of the Koran as an act of "deep disrespect" and expressed "sympathy" for Muslims, noting that the Swedish constitution prevented a ban on such acts, but that did not quell Turkish anger.
The joint accession to NATO of the two Nordic countries remains the "first option", but "obviously we have to assess the situation, if something has happened that means that in the long term Sweden can no longer move forward", said the head of Finnish diplomacy, PekkaHaavisto, on Tuesday. television, judging, however, that "it is too early to take a stand".
Until recently, Helsinki refused to speculate on entry without Sweden, pointing to the benefits of joint membership with its very close neighbour.
The Finnish minister also said on Wednesday that he hopes the ratification process of the decision to admit the two Nordic countries to NATO will be completed before the NATO summit in Vilnius in July, despite the disagreement with Turkey.
Turkey has blocked Sweden and Finland from joining NATO since May, accusing them of harboring Kurdish extremists and sympathizers it describes as "terrorists", particularly those from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Unlike the case of Sweden, Turkey has said in recent months that it has no major objections to Finland's entry into NATO.
Like the Alliance's 30 members, Ankara must ratify the entry of each new member and therefore has veto power.
Only Turkey and Hungary, which say they do not want to block the demands of Finland and Sweden, have yet to ratify the decisions on their admission to NATO.
Source: Beta News Agency