Niinistö: Finland in "immediate" contact with Turkey after Erdogan comments


© APA | Sweden's, President Sauli Niinistö

# 30 January 2023 14:59 (UTC +04:00)

Finland was in "immediate" contact with Turkey on Sunday evening, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted that Ankara might approve Finland's Nato membership but not Sweden's, President Sauli Niinistö told the leading daily Helsingin Sanomat on Monday, APA reports citing Yle News.

Niinistö also spoke by phone on Monday with Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, but no details of the call have been made public.

According to Niinistö, Finland contacted Turkey both through the president's office and Foreign Affairs Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green).

The statement does not change Finland's aim of joining Nato alongside Sweden, Niinistö told the paper.

Also on Monday, the government announced that Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) will meet with her Swedish counterpart Ulf Kristersson in Stockholm on Thursday, becoming the first prime minister to visit since he took office in October. The two are expected to make a joint statement about the two countries' Nato bids.

Last week, Haavisto hinted that Finland was also considering the option that Turkey might not ratify Sweden's Nato membership. Later, however, Haavisto moderated his statement.

According to Toni Alaranta, a Senior Research Fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Erdogan's statement contains a slight, veiled threat.

"It refers to the demonstrations in Sweden and says that such activities should not be seen in Finland," he noted.

Alaranta says that Erdogan's comments remain mere rhetoric unless they are followed by something more official.

"We should get an official statement from Turkey, in which they state that Finland has now fulfilled all the conditions that were, as it were, jointly agreed upon in the Madrid document. And that after this there will be no new conditions," he suggested.

Otherwise, "it's hard to take this seriously," Alaranta added.

Alaranta said that the statement was typical of how Erdogan has dealt with the Nato issue recently. However, he said it is difficult to determine what exactly is being pursued, but that ​​it suggests some kind of "divide and conquer" policy.

The minister also spoke about Finland and Sweden joining Nato on the Yle current affairs programme Ykkösaamu on Saturday.

Haavisto did not directly respond when asked whether it was completely out of the question that, in some circumstances, Finland could join Nato before Sweden.

"This is very speculative; at the moment, there is no such scenario in sight," Haavisto said on Saturday.

Piritta Asunmaa, head of the political department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Yle late Sunday that the ministry had received no evidence that Turkey's ratification of Finland's Nato membership has progressed.

"We will not comment on [his statement] further. I would also like to state that so far, we have not seen any concrete measures from Turkey," said Asunmaa.