Sweden’s PM: Finland likely to join NATO without us

Sweden’s PM: Finland likely to join NATO without us
Опубликовано: Tuesday, 14 March 2023 11:00

Ulf Kristersson says Sweden will join military alliance at a later date, if Turkey continues to block accession.

Turkey’s reluctance to approve Sweden’s NATO candidacy is hampering chances that Stockholm and Helsinki will join the military alliance together, the Swedish prime minister said Tuesday.

“It is not excluded that Sweden and Finland will ratify in different steps,” Ulf Kristersson said at a press briefing, according to public broadcaster SVT.

The likelihood of this scenario “has increased” in recent weeks, Kristersson added, highlighting the ball was now in obstinate Turkey’s court.

Spurred by Russia’s war on Ukraine and the rising threat coming from Moscow, Sweden and Finland officially asked to join NATO last May, and later committed to joining the alliance together.

Most members of the transatlantic military alliance quickly signed off on the joint application — except Hungary and Turkey, whose national parliaments have yet to ratify the membership bids.

Although Stockholm has taken steps to ease some of Turkey’s concerns — including by passing a bill designed to prevent participation in terrorist organizations — Ankara has repeatedly blocked the Swedish candidacy because it refused to extradite dozens of Kurdish political opponents whom it considers to be terrorists.

Tensions deepened in particular after a Danish far-right politician burned a copy of the Quran in Stockholm near the Turkish embassy in January — prompting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to say his country would support Finland’s candidacy, but not Sweden’s.

At the press conference Monday, Kristersson expressed confidence that Sweden would still be able to join the military alliance at a later date.

“This is not about whether Sweden becomes a NATO member, but about when Sweden becomes a NATO member,” he said.

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