Finland says it needs time to negotiate with Turkey on NATO bid

HELSINKI, Jan 24 (Reuters) – Finland and Sweden’s talks with Turkey over an application to join the NATO military alliance need a few more weeks, Finland’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Turkey’s president said Monday that Sweden should not count on his country’s support after protests near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm over the weekend in which a copy of the Koran was burned.

“We need time before we return to trilateral talks, to see where we are once the dust settles after the current situation, so no decision should be made yet,” Foreign Minister Becca Havisto told Reuters in a phone interview. .

“I think there will be a break of two weeks.”

Sweden and Finland applied last year to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and now need the support of all current NATO countries to move forward with their application.

But Turkey has said Sweden, in particular, must take a clear stand against what Ankara sees as terrorists: mainly Kurdish militias and a group it blames for the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced on Monday that presidential and parliamentary elections would be brought a month earlier to May 14.

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

“Of course they feel the pressure of the upcoming elections in mid-May, and because of that the debate has heated up in many ways in Turkey,” Havisto said.

Finland and Sweden have repeatedly said they plan to join the alliance at the same time, and Havisto said there was no reason to consider whether Finland would go it alone.

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Reported by Essi Lehto; Editing by Terje Solsvik, Andrew Heavens and Kevin Liffey

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