Erdogan’s comments on Finland and Sweden joining NATO anger Baerbock
In fact, NATO membership for Finland and Sweden could go quickly. But Turkey is blocking it. “Finland and Sweden are just as important as Turkey in terms of strategic importance,” said FDP foreign policy expert Graf Lambsdorff.
DFinland’s eventual NATO membership has cleared the next hurdle, but at the same time it is causing discord within the alliance. After President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin, Finland’s Marin Social Democrats have also come out in favor of their country joining NATO.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) was angered by statements by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to her, any democratic country should be satisfied if democracies with strong defense capabilities strengthen the common alliance. The day before, Erdogan had declared that he had “no positive opinion” on the possible accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu nevertheless signaled a desire for dialogue.
FDP foreign policy expert Alexander Graf Lambsdorff on Sunday called on Erdogan to back down from his blocking position against the two countries joining NATO. “Finland and Sweden are just as important as Turkey in terms of NATO’s strategic importance,” Lambsdorff told “Bild am Sonntag”. He also called a “lie” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that he felt threatened by NATO enlargement.
“Then Europe will be safer”
Lambsdorff pointed out that NATO is purely a defense alliance, Finland and Sweden are already in the EU. “Now there must be a fast and smooth NATO admission process, then Europe will be safer overall,” he said.
The association of German reservists announced close cooperation with Finland and Sweden. It is “likely that reservists from our states will also be deployed together to defend the alliance in the future”, said the head of the reservists’ association, Patrick Sensburg, of “Bild am Sonntag”.
According to a representative Insa survey for the newspaper, 66% of Germans would like Finland to join NATO, while 20% would not. At the same time, 74% fear that Putin will feel provoked by NATO enlargement. According to the information, 14% do not fear this.
Baerbock gave Sweden and Finland the prospect of rapid admission to NATO. Germany would ratify “very, very quickly” the entry of the two countries into the alliance, Baerbock said on Sunday morning on the sidelines of informal consultations with his NATO colleagues in Berlin. The federal government has already had talks with “all democratic parties”.
Many other NATO countries have also promised a speedy ratification process, Baerbock said. She underlined that there should be no “hang-up” after Sweden and Finland applied for membership.
In a telephone conversation with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin called Helsinki’s plan to join NATO a mistake. Russia does not pose a threat to the neighboring country, Putin stressed during the talks, according to the Kremlin. Finland’s departure from traditional neutrality will lead to a deterioration of what have been good neighborly relations, he warned.
Finland and neighboring Sweden are already close NATO partners, but are not formal members. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparked an intense debate within NATO in both countries.
Theoretically, Turkey could block membership, since decisions within NATO are based on the principle of consensus. Outgoing Turkish President Cavusoglu reiterated his country’s reservations in Berlin, but also said Turkey had always favored an “open door policy”. Haavisto said, “I’m sure we’ll find a solution to this matter.”