Finland may end arms embargo on Turkey for NATO’s sake

Finland may be reconsidering its decision imposed in 2019 not to sell arms to Turkey to speed up its NATO application process.

Unlike the 28 other NATO member states, Turkey and Hungary have not ratified Finland and Sweden membership applications. Consequently, the two Nordic countries are stuck in limbo despite intensified diplomatic efforts.

After he visited Turkey last week, Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen (Centre) was cautiously optimistic, saying that ”at least we have not moved backwards in solving the issue”. But Finland might have a trick up its’ sleeve to speed things up, Kaikkonen told the YLE morning show on Monday.

Allowing permits for arms exports was interrupted in 2019 due to Turkey’s military operation in Syria against Kurdish fighters. In Monday’s interview, Kaikkonen implied that “in principle and in theory,” such a ban on arms sales no longer exists.

Moreover, as part of a wider consideration, Turkey should also be seen as a future ally, Kaikkonen said.

Allowing arms to be sold to Turkey again could be beneficial to Finland’s hopes of quicker ratification of its NATO application. In 2018, Finland’s arms exports to Turkey amounted to around €17 million.

In Finland, export permits are handled case by case. Making the final decision is the government after consultations with the Foreign Ministry and the Defence Ministry.

(Pekka Vänttinen |

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