Finland says time out needed in NATO bid talks with Turkey

HELSINKI, Jan 24 (Reuters) – Finland’s foreign minister said on Tuesday a delay of a few weeks was needed in talks between Finland and Sweden and Turkey over their bid to join the NATO military alliance. NATO.

Turkey’s president said on Monday that Sweden should not expect his country’s support after a protest near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm over the weekend, which included the burning of a copy of the Koran.

“A time out is needed before we get back to the three-party talks and see where we are when the dust settles after the current situation, so no conclusions need to 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 applied to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization last year after Russia invaded Ukraine, and now need the support of all current member states of the NATO to advance their candidacy.

But Turkey has said Sweden in particular needs to take a clearer stance against what Ankara sees as terrorists: mainly Kurdish militants and a group it blames for a 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced on Monday that the presidential and legislative elections would be brought forward by a month to May 14.

Haavisto said he spoke with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Monday.

“Of course they are feeling the pressure of the upcoming elections in mid-May and because of that the discussion has naturally heated up in many ways in Turkey,” Haavisto said.

Finland and Sweden have repeatedly said they plan to join the alliance simultaneously and Haavisto said he saw no reason to question whether Finland could go it alone.

Reporting by Essi Lehto; edited by Terje Solsvik, Andrew Heavens and Kevin Liffey

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