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Friday, March 24, 2023

Finnish president confident that Finland and Sweden will join NATO by summer

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said in an interview published on February 11 that he believed Finland and Sweden would be admitted to NATO by July. If the problem drags on, the whole process of admitting new members to the alliance will be called into question, Niinistö pointed out in an interview with a correspondent from the Finnish news agency STT.

“If it doesn’t happen before the Vilnius meeting, why should it happen later? ” – he said.

The Lithuanian capital will host the NATO summit on July 11-12, 2023. Turkey and Hungary are the only countries in the 30-member alliance that have not yet officially approved the entry of Sweden and Finland. While Hungary promised to do so in February, Turkey has not declared itself ready to ratify the two countries’ membership anytime soon.

Niinistö stressed that the final decision rests with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: “I think that under no circumstances will he allow himself to be subjected to any public pressure,” Niinistö said. “But if new circumstances were to come to light during the bilateral talks between Turkey and the United States, that could have an effect.”

Turkey has said it is postponing approval of Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership because it is outraged, among other things, by a recent series of protests in Stockholm in which militants burned the Quran in front of the Turkish Embassy.

Niinistö said Finland and Sweden had heard many encouraging statements from NATO and that the delay was not just a problem for the two candidate countries.

“I see it has already become a problem for NATO. Of course, other NATO members were also surprised,” summed up the Finnish president.

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