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Finland floats solo NATO entry after Erdogan rejects Sweden

Leo Laikola and Selcan Hacaoglu, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

“There is no ‘plan B’ to going it together,” Haavisto said. “That path hasn’t been considered possible, and that’s in part to do with how to plan our defenses. These Nordic defenses are very difficult to organize, looking at our long eastern border and considering the worst-case scenarios, and Sweden has a key role to play in how we organize these defenses.”

Hungary has said it plans to process the applications at the opening of parliament next month, though its timelines have shifted in the past. Approval by Budapest would leave Turkey as the lone holdout to the expansion, which NATO diplomats had hoped to finalize in time for the alliance’s summit in Vilnius in July.

Last summer, Turkey agreed in principle to NATO allies including the U.S. inviting Sweden and Finland to join the group, but went on to demand concessions from Sweden. Those included a broader crackdown on Kurdish groups that Turkey considers terrorist organizations alongside the extradition of suspects.

Finland and Sweden both fulfill all NATO criteria and should be admitted, Haavisto said, adding that the delay “benefits the bloc’s opponents.”

Erdogan’s nationalist ally, MHP leader Devlet Bahceli, said Turkey would not be satisfied even after the Swedish government condemned the burning of the Koran, which he said was a “grave attack against our religious and spiritual sensitivities.”

“Condemning it is not enough,” Bahceli said.

 

Sweden on Tuesday again insisted that it’s in compliance with an agreement hammered out at NATO’s June summit in Madrid last year, which allowed the expansion process to move forward.

“Protesters are toying with the security of Finland and Sweden in the current situation with actions that are clearly intended to provoke Turkey,” Finland’s Haavisto said. “This has become an obvious hindrance to the process.”

Finland guards a border with Russia roughly 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) long and has a history of wars with its eastern neighbor. It’s seeking to join NATO primarily to deter any future wars, and upholds a strong military to defend itself.

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(Bloomberg News writers Anton Wilen, Jonas Ekblom, Ott Ummelas, Firat Kozok and Olesia Safronova contributed to this article.)

©2023 Bloomberg L.P. Visit bloomberg.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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