HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finland’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that Finland needed a few weeks’ respite and that Sweden was in talks with Turkey over its application to join the NATO military alliance.
On Monday, the Turkish president said that Sweden should not expect his country to support him after a protest near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm at the end of the week, which included the burning of a copy of the Quran.
“There is a need for a period of time before we go back to the trilateral talks and see where we are when the dust settles after the current situation, so no conclusions should be drawn yet,” Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told Reuters in a telephone interview. .
“I think there will be a break for a few weeks.”
Sweden and Finland last year applied to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization after Russia invaded Ukraine, and now need the support of all existing NATO countries to apply.
But Turkey said Sweden in particular should take a clearer stance against what Ankara views as terrorists: mainly Kurdish militants, and a group it blames for the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Monday that the presidential and parliamentary elections will be brought forward a month later to May 14.
Haavisto said he spoke on Monday with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
“Of course they feel the pressure of the upcoming elections in mid-May and because of that the discussions have become heated in many ways in Turkey, understandably,” Haavisto said.
Finland and Sweden have said repeatedly that they plan to join the coalition simultaneously, and Haavisto said he saw no reason to consider whether Finland would go it alone.
(Reporting by Essie Leto). Editing by Terry Solsvik, Andrew Heavens, and Kevin Levy
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