Finland is unlikely to join the North Atlantic alliance by September, the nation’s president admitted on Tuesday, as NATO member Türkiye’s objections to its accession persist.
Sauli Niinisto told Finland’s public broadcaster that he had little hope for a breakthrough at next week’s NATO summit in Madrid, but added that “there has been progress in the talks, and negotiations continue.”
Niinisto told YLE that Ankara has held its ground in its talks with Finland, along with fellow NATO hopeful Sweden. “I don’t believe that we’ll come to an agreement with Türkiye at the NATO Summit in Spain. I don’t think we’ll join NATO before September.”
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said that talks with Türkiye on Monday had been “constructive.”
“The most important thing here is that the negotiations will continue,” Linde said on the talks that were held in Brussels, adding that Stockholm was prepared for a lengthy negotiating process.
Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO last month, a decision spurred by Russia’s war on Ukraine, which began Feb. 24.
But Türkiye, a longstanding member of the alliance, has voiced objections to the membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups.
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK — listed as a terror organization by Türkiye, the US, and EU — has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK terror group’s Syrian offshoot.
On Saturday, Türkiye’s presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said that if the Swedish government did not take steps to end the PKK’s actions within their countries, talks were unlikely to progress.
After a conference in the Turkish capital, Kalin said the recent projection of pro-PKK images on buildings in Stockholm was one of the most striking examples of the terror group’s brazen presence in the country.
Following NATO-chaired talks with Finland and Sweden in Brussels, Kalin told reporters on Monday that negotiations would continue, with the upcoming Madrid summit not an endpoint.
Ankara has called on Stockholm and Helsinki to prevent the terror group from collecting funds, recruiting new members, and ensuring that it ends its activities and propaganda against Türkiye, according to Kalin.
*Writing by Ahmet Gencturk
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