Finland hopes for Nato membership by July together with Sweden

Turkey has said it could approve Finland's application but not Sweden's

Finnish and Swedish soldiers already take part in Nato exercises. Reuters
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Finland hopes it will be a Nato member by July and still wants to join at the same time as Sweden, it said on Monday, despite Turkey saying it could deliver a split verdict on the two applications.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said he hoped both countries would be admitted by the time of a Nato leaders' summit on July 11 and 12.

"Our strong desire in Finland is still to join Nato, together with Sweden," Mr Haavisto told a press conference in Helsinki.

With Turkish elections due in May, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded that Sweden and Finland take a harder line on Kurdish militants before he lifts Turkey's veto.

Ankara has particularly stern objections to Sweden, especially after the burning of the Quran by a far-right activist outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.

Mr Erdogan on Sunday said "if necessary, we can give a different response concerning Finland".

However, Mr Haavisto said Finland would stick with Sweden, its closest military partner, during the application process.

"We have underlined to all our future Nato partners, including Hungary and Turkey, that Finnish and Swedish security go together," he said.

"I still see the Nato summit in Vilnius in July as an important milestone when I hope that both countries will be accepted as Nato members at the latest."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he could approve Finland's application but not Sweden's. Reuters

Turkey and Hungary are the only two current Nato members yet to ratify the applications. Hungary has said it supports them but has yet to hold a vote on the matter.

Sweden has said it takes Turkey's security concerns seriously and is implementing a three-way agreement signed in June.

But Turkey says its government is not doing enough, in particular to extradite people it regards as terrorists.

Mr Haavisto said security assurances from the US, Britain and other Nato members meant Finland, which has a long land border with Russia, could be relatively patient with Turkey.

Finland and Sweden sought shelter under Nato's Article 5 umbrella, which promises collective defence in case of attack, after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Both already take part in Nato exercises.

"We appreciate those security assurances very much, even if we understand that it is not the same as the Nato Article 5, but it is very important for us," Mr Haavisto said.

Updated: January 30, 2023, 3:55 PM