Turkey favours approving Finland's NATO bid before Sweden's
Finland's foreign minister says the Nordic country is still hoping to join NATO together with Sweden, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's remarks that Ankara could accept Helsinki's bid while continuing to block its Swedish neighbours.
"A lot of work has been done towards this goal during the last ten months. Sweden is our closest ally in defence and foreign policy" said Pekka Haavisto on Monday.
"We have actually underlined to all our future NATO partners, including Hungary and Turkey, that Finnish and Swedish security goes together. We share the common long shore of the Baltic Sea and whenever NATO is planning its defence in this region it has to put to the map both Finland and Sweden" he added.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said on Twitter Monday that he discussed “the current situation” with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a telephone call.
Ankara has refused to ratify the two countries' NATO membership bids, primarily because Sweden has declined to extradite dozens of suspects that Ankara links to outlawed Kurdish fighters and a failed 2016 coup attempt.
Turkey had also reacted with fury to a decision by the Swedish police to allow a protest at which a far-right extremist burned a copy of the Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm earlier in January.
It has been outraged, too, by a Swedish prosecutor's decision not to press charges against a pro-Kurdish group that hung an effigy of Erdogan by its ankles outside the Stockholm City Court.
Following those incidents, Ankara last week suspended the two countries' NATO accession talks.
The decision has threatened to derail the bloc's hopes of expanding to 32 countries at a summit planned for July in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.