Finland’s foreign minister said Thursday that while there’s been progress alleviating Turkey’s concerns on Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO bids, there is still no “clear date” on when Ankara will ratify their memberships.
“What we are still missing is the clear date, a clear plan for the Turkish parliament to deal with this issue,” Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said at a press conference with his Swedish counterpart and Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington.
Haavisto said that he hopes the memberships are approved ahead of Turkey’s 2023 election. Western officials told The New York Times on Thursday that they fear Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may be willing to delay Sweden and Finland’s NATO bids for several more months, or in the “nightmare scenario,” he could block them entirely.
Blinken was more optimistic and said Turkey’s concerns are being addressed and that he expects the Nordic nations will join the alliance soon. “I have every expectation that both will formally become members soon,” he said.
Erdogan’s main concerns are over Sweden and Finland’s alleged support for the Kurdish militant group PKK. Stockholm extradited a Kurdish man to Turkey last week who sought asylum in Sweden after being convicted for alleged ties to the PKK. Ankara welcomed the move but said it needs more extraditions to approve Sweden’s NATO bid.
Turkey also wants Sweden and Finland to lift export controls they placed on Turkey in 2019, which Ankara says amount to an arms embargo. Sweden announced it was lifting the restrictions in September, and Finland’s defense minister said Thursday that Helsinki is open to allowing arms exports on a case-by-case basis.