Finland considers solo NATO entry if Turkey keeps rejecting Sweden

Photo illustration: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto/Getty Images

In a statement made on Tuesday, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto suggested that Finland may have to join NATO without Sweden. This comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cast doubt on the expansion of the military alliance following weekend protests in Stockholm by an anti-Islam activist and pro-Kurdish groups.

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The Finnish FM says, however, that a joint way into NATO is still possible, and preferable. Emphasising that they would need to do everything to make it happen.

Sweden and Finland have been jointly applying to join NATO, but Turkey has so far blocked the expansion, citing concerns that Sweden needs to crack down on exiled Kurdish militants and their sympathisers.

Haavisto's statement implies that Finland is now considering proceeding without its Nordic neighbour, though he also emphasised that it is “too early to tell.”

The joint bid by Sweden and Finland to join NATO requires the approval of all existing members, including Turkey. Until now, the two countries have been committed to joining the alliance together, but Haavisto's comment suggests that this may no longer be the case.

The statement follows a recent Quran-burning protest in Stockholm, which resulted in Turkey ruling out support for Sweden's bid to join the military alliance. Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström has stated that “we are in contact with Finland to find out what is really meant.”

In May, both Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Turkey has been blocking their bids in an attempt to get the two countries to meet certain political demands, such as extraditing critics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Kurdish groups that Turkey claims are “terrorists.”