BERLIN — Finland desires to maintain channels of communication open with its neighbor Russia because it will get prepared to use for NATO membership, whereas on the identical time being ready for all eventualities, Finnish International Minister Pekka Haavisto mentioned.
“We don’t anticipate something, however we’re ready for all the things,” Haavisto instructed POLITICO on Saturday forward of a gathering with NATO overseas ministers in Berlin.
Haavisto mentioned that his nation is ready for “conventional army threats” comparable to “violation of airspace or marine area.” Finland can also be braced “for every kind of hybrid and cyber threats throughout this era, notably once we apply for the NATO membership, however we’re not but a member,” he mentioned.
Helsinki is anticipated to formally apply to hitch NATO within the coming days, after Finland’s leaders backed membership earlier this week and Finland’s ruling Social Democratic Celebration endorsed the choice on Saturday.
The historic transfer met with dismay in Moscow.
Responding to Finland’s NATO membership plans, Russia’s International Ministry mentioned the Kremlin “shall be pressured to take retaliatory steps, each of a military-technical and different nature.” Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday instructed his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinistö that “rejecting the conventional coverage of army neutrality would be wrong,” in accordance with a Kremlin assertion.
Haavisto emphasised that regardless of Finland’s intent to hitch NATO, Helsinki desires to maintain a line of communication to Russia, a rustic with which Finland shares a 1,300-kilometer border.
“We wish to keep the border as peaceable” and “don’t wish to carry any conflicts within the NATO space,” the minister mentioned. “Our border has to work additionally sooner or later, so it’s essential all the time to speak — even for those who don’t agree.”
He mentioned Finland has been actively offering help to Ukraine, whereas remaining in favor of open communications with Moscow as Russia’s struggle in Ukraine continues. “We want the scenario that the channels for diplomacy are open,” he mentioned.
“We, in fact, respect additionally the evaluation achieved by Ukraine on this scenario and the calls for of Ukraine to regulate their very own territory,” Haavisto mentioned.
Sweden is also contemplating searching for NATO membership following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Each nations may formally apply as quickly as subsequent week if Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats again the transfer on Sunday.
Whereas many NATO governments overtly applaud Finland’s intent to hitch the alliance — with some Western leaders indicating that the nation will obtain safety backup earlier than its membership is ratified — the keenness hasn’t been fully unanimous. All 30 NATO allies should agree on the accession of a brand new member.
However on Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that “proper now, relating to Sweden and Finland, we comply with the developments however not with a constructive opinion.”
Haavisto famous that he’s in dialogue about Ankara’s reservations and talked on Friday along with his Turkish counterpart, International Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, with one other dialogue set for Saturday. “Now we have really been in a relentless communication with Turkey,” the Finnish minister mentioned.
Çavuşoğlu instructed reporters when arriving on the ministers’ gathering in Berlin that Turkey has been supporting NATO’s open-door coverage “from the start.” Nonetheless, he mentioned the alliance is “not solely in regards to the safety, it’s additionally in regards to the solidarity” and accused Finland and Sweden — with out offering proof — of “overtly supporting” and “participating” with Kurdish group PKK — thought of a terror group by the U.S. and the EU — and with YPG, its Syrian sister group.
“It’s unacceptable and outrageous that our associates and allies are supporting this terrorist group,” Çavuşoğlu mentioned, with out giving particulars.
A majority of the Turkish public, in accordance with the minister, “are towards the membership of these nations who’re supporting PKK, YPG terrorist group and they’re asking us to dam this membership — however these are the problems that we have to speak, in fact, with our NATO allies in addition to these nations.”
Whereas declining to invest on the Turkish management’s motives, Finland’s Haavisto harassed that governments “have the best, in fact, to place their questions and lift their considerations.” Ankara’s present stance, he mentioned, “is perhaps a message additionally, not solely to Finland, or Sweden, but additionally to different NATO nations.”
Zia Weise contributed to this report.