Sauli Niinistö: Finland Won’t Join NATO Without Sweden

Should Sweden run into an impasse on its ascension path amid Turkish objections zeroing in on Sweden’s alleged support to Kurdish separatists, Finland will not join the US-led NATO bloc without its neighbor, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö has said on Sunday.

Speaking at the joint press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Helsinki, Niinistö underlined that Finland and Sweden will go hand in hand in the US-led bloc or his country won’t join NATO.

The NATO Secretary-General has signaled that NATO has no deadline to accept the two Nordic countries amid opposition from Turkey but will definitely attempt to iron out the differences between Turkey and Sweden as soon as possible.

However, Stoltenberg admitted that Turkey has legitimate concerns concerning Sweden, pointing out that – referring to attacks by Kurdish militant groups – no NATO ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Turkey.

Stressing that Turkey is a vital, key ally of the Alliance, the NATO Secretary-General noted that when Ankara raises a concern like terrorism, that they must take that very seriously, announcing that it’s exactly what they’ll do.

Scheduled for late June, the upcoming summit of the alliance has been never seen as the deadline to accept the two prospective members, Stoltenberg insisted, signaling an apparent change of NATO’s stance on the time frame for the potential ascension of the two Nordic countries.

NATO’s Deputy Secretary-General Camille Grand expressed hopes earlier this week that Finland and Sweden’s differences with Turkey, a major NATO nation, would be resolved before the summit.

While Finland and Sweden have maintained close ties and military cooperation with the Alliance for decades already, they have de jure remained neutral countries up until the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has begun.

However, Turkey’s accusations that the two countries are functioning as guesthouses for terrorist organizations, and hosting members of outlawed Kurdish groups Ankara deems to be terrorists have put their potential accession into a deadlock.

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