NATO – Finland contacts Turkey following Erdogan’s remarks on a possible NATO veto for Sweden

Sauli Niinisto, president de Finland – Markku Ulander/Lehtikuva/dpa

The Finnish authorities «immediately» contacted the Turkish authorities on Sunday after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan opened the door to separating the Finnish and Swedish bids in the NATO enlargement process.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto confirmed these contacts on Monday in statements to the newspaper ‘Helsingin Sanomat’. According to Niinisto, it has been agreed to hold further talks both at the level of the Presidency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Niinisto has furthermore spoken with the NATO secretary general, «about the current situation regarding applications for integration». «Close contacts continue,» the president said on his official Twitter account.

Erdogan opened the door to respond «differently» to Finland’s request to join the Atlantic Alliance, after he has spoken out against Sweden’s aspirations in the last week. Both Nordic countries submitted their candidacy jointly and aspired to join at the same time, in record time.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also alluded to a possible division of the candidatures on Monday, calling for the «concerns» of his government to be taken into account, according to statements reported by the Haberturk television channel.

«If this measure is taken, we hope to be able to consider them independently. I think it would be fair to divide these countries into the most and least problematic, but our aim is not really to separate them. Our position is based on objective analyses of how these requirements are met,» he said.

For his part, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto also commented on Erdogan’s suggestion as the Turkish side’s «desire» to consider the membership application «as soon as possible», although he qualified that Helsinki’s intentions are to join NATO hand in hand with its Nordic neighbor.

«Erdogan’s statement speaks of Turkey’s desire to consider the application as soon as possible. We still have the desire to join the Alliance together with Sweden. A lot of work has been done for this in the last ten months,» the foreign minister told a press conference, reports Finnish broadcaster Yle.

Haavisto, who confirmed that he held talks on Sunday with his Turkish and Swedish counterparts, Mevlut Cavusoglu and Tobias Billstrem respectively, stressed the importance of Sweden as an ally and insisted that taking this step together is a matter of «common security».

In this regard, he expressed Finland’s confidence in becoming a full NATO member before the NATO summit scheduled to take place in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11-12, 2023.