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 similar time being ready for all situations, Finnish Overseas Minister Pekka Haavisto stated.
“We don’t anticipate something, however we’re ready for all the pieces,” Haavisto advised POLITICO on Saturday forward of a gathering with NATO overseas ministers in Berlin.
Haavisto stated that his nation is ready for “conventional navy threats” akin to “violation of airspace or marine area.” Finland can also be braced “for every kind of hybrid and cyber threats throughout this era, significantly after we apply for the NATO membership, however we aren’t but a member,” he stated.
Helsinki is anticipated to formally apply to affix 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 Overseas Ministry stated the Kremlin “might be pressured to take retaliatory steps, each of a military-technical and different nature.” Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday advised his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinistö that “rejecting the conventional coverage of navy neutrality can be unsuitable,” in keeping with a Kremlin assertion.
Haavisto emphasised that regardless of Finland’s intent to affix NATO, Helsinki desires to maintain a line of communication to Russia, a rustic with which Finland shares a 1,300-kilometer border.
“We need to preserve the border as peaceable” and “don’t need to carry any conflicts within the NATO space,” the minister stated. “Our border has to work additionally sooner or later, so it’s essential at all times to speak — even in the event you don’t agree.”
He stated Finland has been actively offering help to Ukraine, whereas remaining in favor of open communications with Moscow as Russia’s conflict in Ukraine continues. “We want the scenario that the channels for diplomacy are open,” he stated.
“We, after all, respect additionally the evaluation executed by Ukraine on this scenario and the calls for of Ukraine to manage their very own territory,” Haavisto stated.
Sweden is also contemplating looking for NATO membership following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Each international locations may formally apply as quickly as subsequent week if Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats again the transfer on Sunday.
Whereas many NATO governments brazenly applaud Finland’s intent to affix the alliance — with some Western leaders indicating that the nation will obtain safety backup earlier than its membership is ratified — the passion hasn’t been utterly unanimous. All 30 NATO allies should agree on the accession of a brand new member.
However on Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that “proper now, on the subject of 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, Overseas Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, with one other dialogue set for Saturday. “We now have truly been in a continuing communication with Turkey,” the Finnish minister stated.
Çavuşoğlu advised reporters when arriving on the ministers’ gathering in Berlin that Turkey has been supporting NATO’s open-door coverage “from the start.” Nonetheless, he stated the alliance is “not solely concerning the safety, it’s additionally concerning the solidarity” and accused Finland and Sweden — with out offering proof — of “brazenly supporting” and “partaking” with Kurdish group PKK — thought-about 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 stated, with out giving particulars.
A majority of the Turkish public, in keeping with the minister, “are towards the membership of these international locations 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 discuss, after all, with our NATO allies in addition to these international locations.”
Whereas declining to invest on the Turkish management’s motives, Finland’s Haavisto confused that governments “have the proper, after all, to place their questions and lift their considerations.” Ankara’s present stance, he stated, “is likely to be a message additionally, not solely to Finland, or Sweden, but additionally to different NATO international locations.”
Zia Weise contributed to this report.