Finland could consider joining NATO without Sweden if Turkey continues to block its joint bid to enter the military alliance.
During a television interview, Tuesday morning, Minister of Foreign Affairs Becca Haavisto He said that the two Scandinavian countries joining NATO was “absolutely the first option”, but that “we have to be ready to assess the situation”.
“Did something happen that in the long term would prevent Sweden’s application from progressing?” Haavisto asked.
The answer to his question appears to be yes.
Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, declared on Monday that Sweden no longer had Turkey’s support for its NATO request after a Danish extremist burned a copy of the Holy Quran in Sweden over the weekend.
A few hours after his initial statements, Haavisto spoke to reporters at a hastily arranged press conference in Parliament and clarified his comments, saying that he was “inaccurate” and that Finland still wanted to join NATO with the Swedes.
Despite the delay, the foreign minister’s remarks were the first tacit acknowledgment that the Finnish government was looking ahead and considering scenarios that might unfold, raising doubts about becoming NATO members in parallel with Sweden at a time when the alliance seeks to present a unified stance. Front in the face of the Russian war in Ukraine.
“He has now said what has always been implied but never said before, that our aim is always that we want to do this with Sweden, but no one has said categorically that Finland will not go to him alone – not Sanna Marin, not Pekka Haavisto, not President Niinisto” Charlie Salonius Pasternaksenior researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA) in Helsinki.
“In his press conference, he made it clear that as long as the process is moving, there is no need to think about anything else. Finnish politics has not changed, only if the process is permanently frozen, we will have to think about something else,” Salonius Pasternak told Euronews.
Right now, and especially not before the Finnish general election in early April, no serious Finnish politician will actively campaign for the country to go it alone with NATO’s request and leave Sweden behind.
Finland sees a potential window of time for Turkey to greenlight NATO applications between the Turkish elections in mid-May and the upcoming NATO summit in Lithuania in June.
Then, if there is no move from Ankara, more serious discussions will have to take place for the new government in Helsinki to see its next steps.
Finland’s non-dual membership ‘may work more for Sweden’
Possible worst-case scenario for NATO membership is for Turkey to endorse Finland’s application, not Sweden’s.
The Finns will then have to decide whether or not to file their legal papers in Washington, D.C. to take that final step in becoming full members of NATO, even if it means leaving Sweden out of the military organization.
“It would be really bad for Finnish politicians and domestic politics. The Kremlin would love it if a NATO member just went against the will of the United States and the will of other NATO countries. Geopolitically, that would be great for Russia,” said Salonius Pasternak. .
It is believed that Sweden understands that Finland wants to join NATO together, but if the stars do not align, Finnish membership will still improve the security of the Nordic and Baltic countries.
“And Finland can work more for Sweden as a member at home rather than abroad.”