Finland Seeks to Pause NATO Talks as Turkey Blocks Sweden

Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto in Bucharest, Romania, November 2022. Photo: EPA-EFE/Robert Ghement

"A time-out is needed before we return to the three-way talks and see where we are when the dust has settled after the current situation, so no conclusions should be drawn yet," Haavisto told Reuters.

His statement came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he will block Sweden's NATO bid following a protest in front of Turkish embassy in Stockholm at which Swedish and Danish far right groups burned the Koran.

"Those who allow such blasphemy in front of our embassy can no longer expect our support for their NATO membership," Erdogan said in a speech after a government meeting on Monday.

Turkish politicians from both the ruling and opposition blocs have criticised Sweden, and Turkish protesters besieged the Swedish Consulate General in Istanbul during the weekend.

The deadlock between Sweden and Turkey has also pushed Finland to consider whether it should continue its bid to join the Western military alliance alone.

The "primary option" is still for the two countries to enter NATO simultaneously, given the security considerations of both Nordic nations, Haavisto told Finnish public broadcaster YLE on Tuesday.

But he also said: "We must now assess the situation and see if something has happened which could block Sweden's access to the alliance in the longer run."

Haavisto added however that "it's too early" to make a decision now.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine prompted the two neutral Scandinavian countries to apply to join the Atlantic alliance.

All NATO members except for Hungary and Turkey have since ratified Swedish and Finnish NATO memberships in their...

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