Helsinki and Stockholm to join NATO? Finnish President comments
After the start of the war in Ukraine, Sweden and Finland abandoned neutrality and decided to apply for NATO membership in 2022, and are expected to join the alliance by July.
Finnish President Sauli Niinnisto has announced his belief that Finland and Sweden plan to take part in the NATO summit in Vilnius scheduled for July 11-12, a summit designated for full members of the alliance.
The countries’ wish to join the alliance was expressed in 2022, a few months after the war in Ukraine began last February. Both countries decided to let go of neutrality and apply for NATO membership in May 2022.
Read more: Finland ready to join NATO without Sweden, sources say
Niinisto expressed concern that if Finland and Sweden don’t join the alliance by the summer, then the process of receiving membership will become uncertain and could raise debate, even after being promised rapid accession to the alliance.
This promised “rapid accession” was unexpectedly stalled due to Ankara’s position, amid strained relations between Ankara and Sweden due to several incidents that cast doubt on Sweden's chances of gaining Turkey's approval.
"I don't think that he [Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan] will succumb to any public pressure. But if something opens up in bilateral negotiations between the United States and Turkey, then maybe this will have an effect," Niinisto said.
When the leader of a far-right Danish political party, Rasmus Paludan, burned copies of the Quran in January 2023, with permission from the Swedish authorities in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, the process came to a standstill.
Ankara condemned the incident and announced that it will not support Sweden in its NATO bid. In addition, Erdogan mentions that Turkey’s decision on Finland’s NATO membership will “shock” Sweden.
Read next: Finland hopes to join NATO with Sweden despite Erdogan remarks: FM