Finland's top diplomat hints at joining NATO without Sweden

Finland’s top diplomat appeared to suggest Tuesday that the country may have to join NATO without Sweden after Turkey’s president cast doubt on the expansion of the military

alliance. “We still have to evaluate the situation if it turns out that Sweden’s application is stalling for a long time to come,” Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto

told Finnish broadcaster YLE. His comment came a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Sweden not to expect support for its bid for NATO membership

following weekend protests in Stockholm by an anti-Islam activist and pro-Kurdish groups. Sweden and Finland's historic bid to join the alliance needs the approval of all

existing NATO members, including Turkey, which has so far blocked the expansion, saying Sweden in particular needs to crack down on exiled Kurdish militants and their

sympathizers. Until now, Sweden and Finland have been committed to joining the alliance together, but Haavisto's comment appeared to suggest that Finland was considering

proceeding without its Nordic neighbor. “We are in contact with Finland to find out what is really meant," Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said in a statement to

The Associated Press. “Sweden respects the agreement between Sweden, Finland and Turkey regarding our NATO membership. We have done that so far and we shall continue to do

so." In a memorandum of understanding signed by the three countries at a NATO summit last year, Sweden and Finland committed not to support Kurdish militant groups and to

lift arms embargos on Turkey imposed after its incursion in northern Syria in 2019.