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Finland PM fears NATO accession process risks being 'frozen'

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin in Brussels, Belgium on October 21, 2021 [RICCARDO PAREGGIANI/POOL/Anadolu Agency]
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin in Brussels, Belgium on October 21, 2021 [RICCARDO PAREGGIANI/POOL/Anadolu Agency]

Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced on Tuesday that NATO membership applications from Finland and Sweden could be frozen if an agreement with Turkiye, which is currently blocking their candidacies, was not reached before the alliance's summit slated for 28 June in the Spanish capital, Madrid.

Any agreement to join NATO must be approved unanimously by all 30 NATO members.

The Scandinavian countries have repeatedly expressed their astonishment at Turkiye's objection, which they said had voiced its support for their step until they took it.

"I think it is very important to move forward at this point," Marin urged, adding, "If we don't settle these issues before Madrid, the situation is likely to freeze."

"We don't know for how long, but the situation may be frozen for a while," Marin told reporters during a visit to Sweden.

Ankara accuses Sweden and Finland of providing sanctuary to members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), designated by Turkiye and its Western allies as a "terrorist" group.

Marin stressed that both Stockholm and Helsinki take Turkiye's concerns seriously and want to address them "and clear up any misunderstandings if any."

OPINION: Turkiye is getting caught between NATO and Russia

She noted that Turkiye had previously announced that Nordic countries would be welcome to join NATO but changed its rhetoric as soon as they submitted their membership applications.

"Of course, we take all issues seriously and have discussions, but I also think that Turkiye should also try to find solutions," Marin said during a joint press conference with her Nordic counterparts.

During a visit to Sweden on Monday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance was working hard to resolve the "legitimate" concerns raised by Turkiye.

However, he confirmed that the blockade by Turkiye might not be resolved in time for the NATO summit.

Finland and Sweden eventually decided to join NATO in response to Russia's attack on Ukraine on 24 February.

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Europe & RussiaInternational OrganisationsNATONewsRussiaSwedenTurkeyUkraine
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