Finnish Foreign Minister optimistic that ‘sooner or later’ Finland and Sweden will be NATO members

In an interview with CNN in Washington, DC on Friday, Haavisto said he hoped the issue of Finland’s NATO membership and overcoming current opposition from Turkey would come up in his talks with the US secretary of state. ., Antony Blinken, in their meeting later that day, adding he was “pretty sure” that other NATO countries had also talked to Turkey.

At a news conference after the meeting between top US and Finnish diplomats, Blinken said the US is directly engaged with Turkey “but the focus is on the work that Finland, Sweden and Turkey are doing together to address concerns.” .

“I’m not going to go into details, but there is a very active ongoing conversation between Finland, Sweden and Turkey that we will support in any way we can. I suspect NATO will as well.” said the top US diplomat.

Delegations from Finland and Sweden, which formally applied for NATO membership last week, traveled to Turkey earlier this week to discuss joining NATO. All current NATO members must approve new members.

Haavisto, who did not attend the talks, called it a “good meeting” and said it lasted five hours. Haavisto pointed out that there are European and Finnish laws and policies that guide Finland’s actions on Turkey’s main demands: the designation of the PKK as a terrorist organization, the lifting of arms export controls, the extradition of Kurdish militants that Turkey considers terrorists. . However, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said after the delegation’s visit that “if Turkey’s security concerns are not resolved with concrete steps, the process cannot progress.”

Haavisto said “there was an agreement to continue those discussions,” but a next round of talks has not yet been arranged.

“From our perspective, the time frame is essential, because of course we look forward to the NATO Summit in Madrid,” which is at the end of June, “and we hope that during the NATO Summit, the new members welcome, at least, and NATO’s ‘Open Door Policy’ would be upheld, but of course this depends on each and every member state who can also influence the process,” he said.

The decisions of Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO were a major change brought about by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Though Moscow suggested it would take “retaliatory measures” in response, Haavisto told CNN that they haven’t seen any incidents so far, reiterating that “we don’t expect anything, but we are prepared for everything.” He said Finland is pleased with the countries’ statements regarding security commitments in the current gray area between applying for and joining NATO.

‘Out of the question’ ease sanctions on Russia to unblock Ukraine ports

Haavisto said he hoped energy and food safety issues would also come up in his meeting with Blinken on Friday.

“Our concern is also the blockade of shipping on the Black Sea coast, because it is related to grain transportation and trade, etc. And it is not good if Ukraine is a landlocked country like it is now.” she told CNN.

The foreign minister said it was “out of the question” to ease Russian sanctions as a means of unblocking ports.

“I think the international community should really call for a safe transportation route for agricultural products out of Ukraine, because this is critical for global food security and food prices,” he told CNN.

Haavisto said it was hard to predict how the war in Ukraine, now in its fourth month, might end, but said Finland and Europe are focused on “helping Ukraine as much as possible so that whenever there are some talks, negotiate from the strongest position possible.

“It is very difficult to see when there will be business as usual between Russia and Europe,” he added, noting that Russia must be investigated for the human rights abuses and war crimes it has committed in Ukraine.

Asked if there can be business as usual if Putin remains in power, Haavisto said it was “hard to say.”

“There are those who say that without regime change nothing can be done, but also regime change is something that cannot be done from the outside, it is of course something that Russia and the Russians can only do,” he said. Haavisto also pointed out that “we have to be prepared also for riskier scenarios, that when people talk about regime changes, you don’t know if the regime changes for better or for worse,” such as a military takeover.

“And of course it’s a country with nuclear weapons and chemical weapons and so forth,” he added, saying it was the first time since the Cuban missile crisis that the use of tactical nuclear weapons had been hinted at.

He said that in Finland that “creates a lot of concerns.”

“We have a strong traditional army and a strong traditional army, but with these kinds of threats, you can’t survive against those kinds of threats alone,” he said.

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