Over the past 24 hours, the Finnish government has made two major overtures to the two biggest opponents of Finland’s accession into NATO: Russia and Turkey.
Finnish President Niinisto called the Russian President to discuss Finland’s imminent decision to join NATO. He reportedly told the Russian President that Finland plans on joining NATO within the next few days as the Finnish Social Democratic Party has endorsed the Prime Minister’s and President’s wishes to do so. According to Russian state media, the two discussed the future of Russian-Finnish relations and the current war in Ukraine. In a surprising revelation, President Putin told the Finnish President that peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv were nonexistent. From Russian state media:
“The leaders also discussed the situation in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin, in particular, shared his assessment of the state of the negotiation process between Russian and Ukrainian representatives, which was actually suspended by Kyiv, which does not show interest in a serious and constructive dialogue,” the message says.
President Putin also cautioned the Finnish President that abandoning their practice of strategic neutrality would be a mistake for peace in the Baltics.
In addition to this phone call, Finnish, Swedish and Turkish diplomats met in Berlin today to discuss Ankara’s issues with the two nations joining NATO. Finnish Foreign Minister Haavisto told reporters today that communication was very important in listening to Turkish concerns and their government was ready to negotiate. Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusolgu said “those countries should not support PKK/ YPG terrorist groups”, which has been the primary hiccup in these trilateral relations.
Leading into these negotiations, President Erdogan said: “Scandinavian countries have become a safe haven, a so-called guest house for PKK and other terror groups,” in a televised statement on Friday. “Some terrorists even participate in Sweden’s and Netherlands’ parliaments.”
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde met YPG representatives in 2020 and triggered a harsh response from Ankara. As well as a number of other high-profile meetings which actually caused Turkey to reject a 2019 Baltic Defense Plan due to its favorable effects on the Scandinavian countries.
Ankara also criticized Finland for joining military sanctions against Turkey in 2019 due to Turkey’s military operations against the YPG in northern Syria.
While these negotiations have a far way to mend the bridges between the three nations, a spokesperson for President Erdogan did say earlier today that “Turkey is not closing the door” on Sweden and Finland joining NATO.