Sweden and Finland may not join NATO soon. After conversations between the two Nordic countries and Turkey over the weekend of May 21-22nd, the process for membership approval is going to take time.
Finnish daily Hufvudstadsbladet reports that the country’s foreign minister, Pekka Haavisto, was originally optimistic about a swift solution to Turkish objections to the Nordic countries’ petition. After the most recent conversation between Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Foreign Minister Haavisto is less optimistic.
“To be on the safe side, I am now saying that it can be a matter of weeks,” explains Haavisto with reference to how long it may take before Turkey allows the Finnish membership application to move forward.
Turkey vowed to block NATO accession for Sweden and Finland as soon as the two countries handed in their applications. One of the motives, according to the government in Ankara, is the support provided by the two Nordic countries to PKK, an organization that both Turkey and the European Union classify as terrorist.
Turkey also wants Sweden and Finland to extradite a number of individuals it refers to as terrorists. The Swedish government is highly reluctant to even discuss this issue. Early conversations between Ankara and Stockholm have not brought the matter forward. According to daily Swedish Dagens Nyheter, DN, part of the friction between the two governments is due to the inability of Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde to maintain a productive relationship with her Turkish counterpart.
The DN quotes Paul T. Levin, associate research fellow with the Swedish Institute of International Affairs:
Foreign Minister Ann Linde … has engaged in verbal confrontations with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on numerous occasions.
According to Levin, it would be productive for the Swedish NATO membership process if Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson assumed responsibility for the talks with Turkey.