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Turkey“s Erdogan signals Finland“s NATO bid may be considered over Sweden


2023-01-29T19:07:43Z

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FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses lawmakers of his AK Party during a meeting in parliament in Ankara, Turkey, January 18, 2023. Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan signalled on Sunday that Ankara may agree to Finland joining NATO ahead of Sweden, amid growing tensions with Stockholm.

“We may deliver Finland a different message (on their NATO application) and Sweden would be shocked when they see our message. But Finland should not make the same mistake Sweden did,” Erdogan said in a televised speech aired on Sunday.

Sweden and Finland applied last year to join NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and need all member countries’ approval to join. Turkey and Hungary are yet to ratify the Nordic countries’ membership.

Turkey says Sweden, in particular, harbours what Ankara says are militants from the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984.

“We gave Sweden a list of 120 persons and told them to extradite those terrorists in their country. If you don’t extradite them, then sorry about that,” Erdogan said, referring to Turkey’s agreement with Sweden and Finland last June over their NATO application.

Turkey suspended NATO talks with Sweden and Finland last week after a protest in Stockholm in which a far-right politician burned a copy of the Koran.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said his country wanted to restore NATO dialogue with Turkey, but Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday it was meaningless to restart talks.

Cavusoglu also said there was “no offer to evaluate Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO membership separately.”