Turkey plans to lift its veto on Finland’s NATO membership next month

File – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Parliament in Ankara, Turkey. – -/Turkish Presidency/dpa

The Turkish government is considering lifting its veto on Finland’s NATO membership next month but would maintain its refusal to allow Sweden to join the Atlantic Alliance, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted last weekend and sources close to the discussions confirmed to Bloomberg on Friday.

Last Sunday, Erdogan advanced with giving Finland a «different» answer than Sweden in the efforts of both Nordic countries to join NATO. It should be recalled that Helsinki and Stockholm requested their simultaneous integration into the bloc to protect themselves from the threat of Russia in the midst of the war in Ukraine, but Turkey, which has the right of veto, demands in return that they stop harboring individuals designated by Ankara as terrorists because of their links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The calling of general elections in Turkey for next May 14 has accelerated the timing of the Turkish decision because the national Parliament will suspend its functions next month, which would make it impossible for the Turkish government to take any decision on the matter until the opening of a new government cycle.

Bloomberg’s sources explained that right now the Turkish government is very satisfied with Helsinki’s reaction to its requests, especially after lifting last week an embargo on arms trade with Turkey, another of the Turkish authorities’ demands.

In fact, this past Thursday Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin confirmed that her country had «resolved the concerns raised by Turkey» although she always used the plural to refer to the «requests» submitted together by the two Nordic countries. «It is important that we send a clear message: joint membership is in everyone’s interest,» she added.

The relationship between Turkey and Sweden, these sources add, is much more difficult. Erdogan accuses them of keeping 120 «terrorists» undelivered — «If there is no extradition, I am very sorry,» the president said — and the recent burning of the Koran in front of the Turkish Embassy by the Swedish-Danish ultra-right-winger Rasmus Paludan, which the Swedish authorities decided not to deal with out of respect for freedom of expression, has further strained the atmosphere.

The Swedish government has promised to tighten its anti-terrorism law but has asked for time for the implementation of the project, estimated at six months and a deadline that Ankara is not willing to accept. «Turkey wants things that we cannot and do not want to give them, and now the decision rests with the Turks,» Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said early last month during the People and Defense conference held in Stockholm and reported by the daily ‘Aftonbladet’.