Sweden: Finland is likely to join NATO sooner

Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson (left) and Oscar Stenstroem, chief negotiator in the NATO membership process, hold a news conference about membership in Stockholm on March 14, 2023. (Fredrik Sandberg /TT News Agency via AP)

HELSINKI (AP) — Sweden’s prime minister acknowledged Tuesday that neighboring Finland is likely to join NATO before his country because of Turkey’s opposition to Sweden’s bid.

Speaking at a press conference in Stockholm, Ulf Kristersson said that since the Alliance summit in Madrid last June it had become clear that Finland’s path to membership was easier than Sweden’s, and that it is now increasingly likely Let Finland join NATO first.

Turkey accuses both nations, but especially Sweden, of being too soft on groups that Ankara views as terrorist organizations or existential threats, including Kurdish organizations. Last month, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that Turkey has fewer problems with Finland’s entry.

Since announcing their desire to join the military alliance in May last year, Finland and Sweden have consistently insisted that they would join at the same time “hand in hand”.

But Kristersson told reporters on Tuesday that now “it is not ruled out that Sweden and Finland will be ratified at different stages.”

NATO’s 30 members have to approve the accession of a new member. All signed the accession protocols of both nations last year and 28 have ratified them. In early March, Hungarian lawmakers began discussing the Nordic bids and Budapest could give them the go-ahead by the end of the month, leaving Turkey the last to stand.

Ankara maintains that it continues to seek guarantees from the two countries.

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