Finland hopes for rapid admission to NATO, hails Türkiye’s mediation in war

Finland hopes for rapid admission to NATO, hails Türkiye’s mediation in war

Finland hopes for rapid admission to NATO, hails Türkiye’s mediation in war

Türkiye has played a critical role in the establishment of a grain corridor in the Black Sea and securing the safety of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the top Finnish diplomat has said while expressing his hope that the process of Finland’s admission to NATO will be concluded rapidly.

“When people ask, ‘Has the U.N. ever been successful on any issues regarding Russian attack against Ukraine?’ I always mention two issues [in which] Türkiye has been involved,” Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told a group of international reporters at a meeting in Helsinki on Sept. 29.

Haavisto cited the visit by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in early September to avoid a major nuclear tragedy and the Istanbul treaty by Türkiye, Russia, Ukraine and the U.N. over the establishment of a grain corridor as two successful mediation efforts between the two warring sides. The Turkish government has been active in both negotiations.

“Türkiye has played a very important role in the grain trade. The Istanbul agreement was a real milestone,” the minister stressed.

Recalling that Türkiye and Finland are partners of the Mediation for Peace initiative under the U.N. roof and that he and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu co-chaired a meeting on the mediation efforts during the U.N. General Assembly in New York last week, Haavisto informed that his country has a long tradition of working with Türkiye on all these issues.

“I had a lot of meetings with Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu this year. I have visited Türkiye twice. Most of our time we used, we spoke may be only 5 percent about Finnish NATO membership, and 95 percent was about the conflicts, including the Russian attack against Ukraine, but very much also Africa, the Syrian issues and other topics to the interest of both our countries,” he noted.

“We remain in close connection with Turkiye on all these issues,” he added.

‘As rapidly as possible’

One of the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine was the joint decision of Finland and Sweden to enter the NATO alliance. Türkiye has greenlighted the two Nordic states’ admission on the condition that they will cooperate with it against terrorist organizations, such as the PKK, the YPG and the FETO, which have been quite active in these two countries but particularly in Sweden.

“We, of course, hope NATO members would process our application as rapidly as possible, and we have quite a good result: We have two countries remaining [to ratify Finnish and Swedish admission at their parliament]. We still have Hungary and Türkiye left,” Haavisto stated, adding that 28 out of 30 NATO members have already approved the two Scandinavian countries’ bid to join the alliance. Türkiye says both nations should take concrete steps in accordance with the trilateral agreement signed on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Madrid in late June.

Haavisto informed that he had been in close contact with his Turkish and Hungarian colleagues, saying, “We have been discussing how these processes are advancing in their countries. Of course, we hope that these all will bring good results from those countries, and we would then be full members of NATO.”

Despite Helsinki’s optimism, Ankara underlines that there has been no progress in talks with Finland and Sweden. The Finnish top diplomat reminded that officials from the three countries held their first technical meeting in late August in Finland and that the next one is planned to take place in October. Describing the first meeting as positive, Haavisto said: “We have a picture that things are advancing. I don’t want to go into details but I understand that the spirit in the meeting in August was positive and progress was made.”

He also reiterated that the simultaneous admission of Finland and Sweden into NATO was very important for both countries and NATO, although there are comments from Ankara that suggest the separation of the two countries’ dossiers.

“Finland and Sweden have very much common interest on the security and also we are countries that have been planning and working together on security for a long time. So it will strengthen NATO also in this part of the world,” he stated.

“In our last meeting with Minister Çavuşoğlu, I already stressed that this situation where Russia is making the mobilization is causing additional, increasing concerns in this part of the world. And it would be very good to go smoothly in this process,” the minister added.

‘We take Türkiye’s security concerns seriously’

The Finnish foreign minister also urged the sensitivity of these issues and to avoid megaphone diplomacy. “We, in Finland, deal with security issues in another way. If we only look at the newspapers, we cannot get results in these kinds of negotiations. I think it is very important that our staff members can meet and discuss and address those issues which Türkiye is raising case by case. We need to take Turkish security concerns seriously. But we also have to work according to our legislation,” he stated.

Defense Minister: Cooperation of defense industry possible

Finnish Defense Minister Antti Kaikkone, who had a separate meeting with the same group of reporters, emphasized that the Finnish military forces are continuing their efforts to integrate with the alliance.

“Twenty-eight countries have so far ratified the Swedish and Finnish NATO memberships. We are pleased that ratifications have progressed swiftly. At the Finnish Defence Ministry, preparations for our forthcoming NATO membership are well under way. We plan to make full use of the invitee period to prepare ourselves for the full membership,” he said.

On a question about whether Finland has removed its restrictions on the military sales to Türkiye, the minister recalled that Türkiye has not been subject to the EU or U.N. arms embargoes. “Finland considers export of defense materials case by case basis. During the last months, there have been no major cases of exports of military materials to Türkiye. During the last years, not much either. But in the future, Finland’s membership in NATO will be part of this overall foreign policy assessment. So in the future, we will take into account that we are in the same alliance when considering case by case these exports,” he suggested.

On a question of whether Finland would opt for cooperation with Türkiye in the field of the defense industry, Kaikkone stressed, “Our defense forces are investing more in our defense and making new procurements. I know that there are some high-quality products in Türkiye. That might be one option for Finland in the future.”

TURKEY, Serkan Demirtaş,