Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto (Greens) reacted at a news conference in the Parliament House in Helsinki on Tuesday, 24 January 2023. Haavisto on Saturday reiterated to YLE that Finland and Sweden are continuing their journey toward Nato together. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)


MINISTER for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto (Greens) on Saturday reiterated that Finland and Sweden are continuing their joint journey to Nato.

“My understanding is that neither country has reached the end of the road when it comes to Nato,” he phrased on YLE Ykkösaamu on Saturday. “My general assessment is that this is a timeout by Turkey and that we can return to the matter after the elections in Turkey [in May].”

Turkey last week broke up trilateral negotiations over the membership applications of Finland and Sweden, in response to the burning of a Quran outside its embassy in Stockholm by Rasmus Paluda, a Danish-Swedish far-right policymaker. Helsingin Sanomat revealed last week that the policymaker received support for his protest from Chang Frick, a Swedish journalist who has collaborated with a subsidiary of Russian state-controlled news network Russia Today.

Haavisto hinted in the aftermath of the incident that Finland is also weighing up what to do in the event that Turkey ratified its application, but not that of Sweden. “We’ll of course have to examine the situation. Has something happened that’d prevent the Swedish effort from moving forward in the longer term?”

On Saturday, he continued to play down his statement in an interview with the public broadcaster by estimating that nothing irreversible has occurred. He declined to provide a direct answer when asked whether he could fathom a circumstance where Finland acceded to Nato before Sweden.

“This is very speculative. Nothing like this is in sight at the moment,” he said.

He also said there has been no need to ask whether the alliance could ratify the membership of Finland instead of both Finland and Sweden. Security in the Baltic Sea, he reminded, is perceived as a single entity among members of Nato.

“For Nato’s defence planning, Sweden will be a very important security component in the region,” he stated to YLE.

Finland and Sweden will contribute to security also in Nato, according to Haavisto. “We’ve had our own functioning defence and a large reserve all this time. Also Sweden has advanced weapons technologies. Finland and Sweden will promote security also in Nato and add their own quite strong defences to this. As we aren’t yet in Nato, we’re naturally leaning on our own defence.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday suggested Turkey is ready to show a green light for the membership application of Finland, but not that of Sweden.

“If needed, we could give a different message about Finland. Sweden will be shocked when we give the different message about Finland,” he was quoted saying at a televised event by Associated Press.

“But Finland mustn’t make the same mistake.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT