Finland may have to consider advancing its NATO bid without Sweden: Foreign minister

Finland may have to consider advancing its NATO membership application without Sweden if Stockholm's application process is interrupted for much longer, the Finnish foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Asked whether Finland should still proceed together with Sweden, Pekka Haavisto told public broadcaster Yle that his country should be able to re-think that strategy if necessary.

"Of course from the perspective of both countries' security, it's absolutely the number-one option," he said. "But we have to be ready to re-evaluate the situation. Has something happened that would in the long run prevent Sweden's application from progressing?"

"Now it is too early to take a view on that," he added.

His remarks came a day after Türkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sweden "should not expect" any good news from Ankara on its NATO bid without changing course on showing respect for Islam and cracking down on terror groups.

Rasmus Paludan, an extreme-right Danish politician, on Saturday, burned a copy of the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm, under police protection and with permission from the authorities.

Ties between Sweden and Türkiye were already tense over provocative protests in Stockholm by supporters of the terrorist group PKK/YPG in recent weeks.

Under a memorandum signed last June between Türkiye, Sweden, and Finland, the two Nordic countries pledged to take steps against terrorists to gain membership in the NATO alliance.

Unanimous agreement from all NATO members – including Türkiye, a member for more than 70 years – is needed for any new members to be admitted to the alliance.

Protesters play with security of Finland, Sweden

"These protesters are toying with Finland and Sweden's security," Haavisto told Yle, adding that they aim to provoke Türkiye and influence public discourse.

Türkiye is "shocked and annoyed" by the demonstrations, he said, adding that they delay Ankara's willingness to negotiate.

The latest "bump" on the road will see Finland and Sweden's accession process stalled further, at least until after Türkiye's elections, which are expected in mid-May, Haavisto said.

The foreign minister said Finland, Sweden, and Türkiye are trying to arrange a new trilateral meeting in early spring, in which the situation will be assessed.

Source: Anadolu Agency