Top Finnish lawmaker balks at Turkey’s NATO threat — Analysis
Parliament speaker says Helsinki can’t change its laws and extradite ‘innocent people’ to allay Ankara’s terrorism concerns
Finland’s top legislator has ruled out placating Turkey to win approval for the country’s NATO membership bid, saying parliament can’t change laws and extradite “innocent people”Ankara considers terrorists.
Speaker of Parliament Matti Vanhanen, a former prime minister, made his comments in an interview with Finnish public broadcaster Yle on Saturday, responding to claims by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that NATO applicants Finland and Sweden have harbored people linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, who Ankara considers “terrorists.” Erdogan earlier this week said he would veto the two Nordic countries’ NATO bids – unanimous consent is required for the military alliance to accept new members – at least partly because they have refused to extradite PKK “terrorists” to Turkey.
“On the points concerning our rule of law, Turkey must realize that we cannot agree to [change them] politically,” Vanhanen said. “Innocent people are not extradited to another country, especially if there is a risk that they will be imprisoned or sentenced without justification.”
On Saturday, Turkish and Finnish leaders had been scheduled to meet. Ankara also expressed concern about PKK-members and demanded Finland and Sweden extradite members of FETO (a group that supports Fethullah Gaulen).
Erdogan demanded from the countries that Turkey lifted restrictions on arms exports and Ankara is allowed to rejoin the F-35 fighter-jet program. Ankara had been expelled in 2019 after Russia’s purchase of S-400 surface-to-air Missiles. He’s gone so far as to accuse Sweden of arming Kurdish militias with weapons that have been used against Turkish troops.
Vanhanen stated that Finland would remain together with Stockholm in the accession process, despite Erdogan’s harsher comments about Sweden. “The bond between Finland and Sweden is strong,”He said. “We certainly won’t break it. We don’t abandon our partners.”
The two-time presidential candidate told Yle that he’s certain Finland will be admitted to NATO, and “time will tell”What time it takes. Vanhanen spoke out about issues beyond extradition requests. “We must find out what exactly Turkey expects.”He stated that Ankara’s talks will reveal the extent of controversy surrounding Finland and Sweden, rather than about Turkey. “something within NATO.”
Finland shares an 1,340km (832 miles) border with Russia. It fought in a war against Soviet Union in 1939. Since the end of World War II, it has maintained military neutrality. Since 1814, Sweden’s last costly war with Russia, Sweden has been militarily neutral. Both countries’ residents have always opposed NATO membership, however public opinion changed sharply when Russia launched the military campaign against Ukraine in February.
Rather than reaping an expected peace dividend after the Cold War ended in 1991, NATO extended its reach right up to Russia’s borders, breaking promises regarding its eastward expansion. Since 1999, 14 members have been added to the bloc, while Ukraine and Georgia (both former Soviet republics) applied for NATO membership.