Despite suspending negotiations with Sweden, Turkey now says it is ready to approve Finland’s bid to join NATO, an approval likely to be formally announced Friday when Finnish President Sauli Niinisto travels to Istanbul to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
On Wednesday Erdogan had responded positively to reporters’ questions over whether Turkish parliament stands ready to ratify Finland’s membership after the Niinisto meeting. Erdogan responded: “God willing, if it is for the best.” He also mentioned keeping “our promise”.
“Whatever the process is, the process will function. We will do our part. We will keep our promise. We will meet with the president on Friday and fulfill the promise we made,” Erdogan said.
Perhaps more interesting was the Kremlin’s somewhat softer than expected reaction (given the clear behind-the-scenes positive relations and cooperation between Moscow and Ankara despite the Ukraine war), which said Thursday that Russia is not a threat to Finland.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov sought to stress, “We have many times expressed regret over Finland and Sweden’s move toward membership and said many times that Russia does not pose a threat to these countries.”
“We do not have any dispute with these countries… They have never posed any threat to us and, logically, we did not threaten them,” Peskov added.
Finland meanwhile is building a 200km fence along its border with Russia to boost security, also after reporting that Russian men fled into Sweden by the droves in order to escape conscription. The fence will reportedly be 10 feet high and topped with barbed wire.
Sweden’s membership bid is expected to continue to stall, after deteriorating relations with Turkey in the wake of the Quran-burning incident by a far-right activist. Turkey has also demanded Swedish authorities crackdown on Kurdish political groups and operatives while alleging that Stockholm has hosted “terrorists” on its soil.