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Erdogan says Turkey positive on Finland’s NATO bid, not Sweden’s

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ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey is open to Finland’s bid to join NATO but does not support Sweden’s proposal, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.

In a speech to AK party members in parliament, Erdogan said of the NATO application: “Our position with Finland is positive, but not with Sweden.

After Russia invaded Ukraine, Sweden and Finland last year applied to join the transatlantic defense pact but faced an unexpected turn of events. objection Since then, it has tried to win the support of Turkey.

Ankara has taken a tougher line, especially in Helsinki and Stockholm, against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which Turkey and the European Union consider a terrorist group, and another group that has accused it of a failed coup in 2016. wants to take a stance.

The three countries reached an agreement to move forward in Madrid last June, but tensions rose after protests in Stockholm, where far-right Danish politicians burned copies of Islam’s holy book, the Koran. The Turkish government suspended talks last month.

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“Sweden should not be challenged at this point. As long as they allow the Koran to be burned, they will not say ‘yes’ to their NATO application,” Erdogan said.

Sweden’s foreign minister said free speech cannot be compromised but Sweden will continue to implement the Madrid Agreement.

“It is very clear what Sweden needs to do to become a member of NATO and that is to meet the requirements in the trilateral agreement,” he told state news agency TT.

“Religion is not part of the pact.”

Over the weekend, Erdogan suggested that Finland could agree to join NATO before Sweden. However, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said on Monday that Finland was sticking to its plan to apply jointly with Sweden.

Of NATO’s 30 members, only Turkey and Hungary have yet to ratify the membership of the Nordic countries.

Asked if Turkey planned separate processes for Finland and Sweden, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevrut Cavsogur said it would be up to NATO and the two Nordic countries to decide on separate ratifications.

“If NATO and the two countries decide on separate accession processes, Turkey will of course review Finland’s accession separately and more favorably,” Cavusoglu said at a press conference with his Estonian counterpart in Tallinn. .

Finland reiterated its position on Wednesday to move in step with its Nordic neighbors.

“Finland, together with Sweden, continues to move forward in the accession process,” the joint presidential-government committee on Finnish security and foreign policy said in a statement.

“It is in the best interests of Finland, Sweden and NATO as a whole to realize membership of both countries as soon as possible,” he added.

Reporting by Nevzat Devranoglu and Ezgi Erkoyun. Additional reporting by Essi Lehto, Helsinki and Simon Johnson, Stockholm. Written by Huseyin Hayatsever.Edited by Darren Butler, Jonathan Spicer, Ben Dangerfield, Bernadette Baum

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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