Finland tells Turkey NATO membership cannot be traded

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto from the Green Party played down fears that Turkey could block Finland’s NATO membership during a parliamentary debate on NATO on Monday, saying his country would not be a safe haven for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in exchange for membership. [EPA-EFE/CLEMENS BILAN]

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto from the Green Party played down fears that Turkey could block Finland’s NATO membership during a parliamentary debate on NATO on Monday, saying his country would not be a safe haven for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in exchange for membership.

Denying the accusations of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that Finland (and Sweden) are safe havens for the PKK, Haavisto said: “We are not trading. Our clear answer is this. PKK has been banned in Finland since it is on the EU list of terrorist organisations. If this remains ambiguous to someone, we can write it in capital letters and say it in any context.”

US Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, on a visit to Helsinki on Monday (16 May) with other Republican senators John Barrasso, Susan Collins and John Cornyn, briefly commented on the issue. “Hopefully, the concerns of the Turkish President Erdoğan will be solved. Finland and Sweden will be strengthening NATO significantly. Hopefully, this is also Erdoğan’s view,” said McConnell, quoted by the Finnish News Agency.

According to McConnell, most Republicans support Finland’s NATO membership, and the US Senate may be ready to ratify the deal before August.

But Turkey could pose a problem as several signs point toward a quick deterioration in Turkish-West relations, a senior research fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA), Toni Alaranta, tweeted on Monday (16 May). “None of us can really be surprised that Erdoğan turned this into a diplomatic crisis. This has been part of his playbook for years,” tweeted Alaranta.

Russia could be tempted to play the “Turkey card” and offer something to Turkey, the institute’s director, Mika Aaltola, told the YLE morning show in an interview.

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