Finland ‘prepared’ for threats but open to talks with Russia

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 eventualities, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto stated.

“We don’t expect anything, but we are prepared for everything,” Haavisto informed POLITICO on Saturday forward of a gathering with NATO overseas ministers in Berlin.

Haavisto stated that his nation is ready for “traditional military threats” akin to “violation of airspace or marine space.” Finland can also be braced “for all kinds of hybrid and cyber threats during this period, particularly when we apply for the NATO membership, but we are not yet 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 Party endorsed the choice on Saturday. 

The historic transfer met with dismay in Moscow. 

Responding to Finland’s NATO membership plans, Russia’s Foreign Ministry stated the Kremlin “will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature.” Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday informed his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinistö that “rejecting the traditional policy of military neutrality would be wrong,” in accordance 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 want to maintain the border as peaceful” and “don’t want to bring any conflicts in the NATO area,” the minister stated. “Our border has to work also in the future, so it’s very important always to communicate — even if 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 warfare in Ukraine continues. “We need the situation that the channels for diplomacy are open,” he stated. 

“We, of course, respect also the analysis done by Ukraine in this situation and the demands of Ukraine to control their own territory,” Haavisto stated.

Sweden is also contemplating looking for NATO membership following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Both nations might formally apply as quickly as subsequent week if Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats again the transfer on Sunday.

While 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 keenness hasn’t been utterly unanimous. All 30 NATO allies should agree on the accession of a brand new member.

But on Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that “right now, when it comes to Sweden and Finland, we follow the developments but not with a positive opinion.” 

Haavisto famous that he’s in dialogue about Ankara’s reservations and talked on Friday along with his Turkish counterpart, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, with one other dialogue set for Saturday. “We have actually been in a constant communication with Turkey,” the Finnish minister stated.

Çavuşoğlu informed reporters when arriving on the ministers’ gathering in Berlin that Turkey has been supporting NATO’s open-door coverage “from the beginning.” Nevertheless, he stated the alliance is “not only about the security, it’s also about the solidarity” and accused Finland and Sweden  — with out offering proof — of “openly supporting” and “engaging” with Kurdish group PKK — thought of a terror group by the U.S. and the EU — and with YPG, its Syrian sister group.

“It is unacceptable and outrageous that our friends and allies are supporting this terrorist organization,” Çavuşoğlu stated, with out giving particulars.

A majority of the Turkish public, in accordance with the minister, “are against the membership of those countries who are supporting PKK, YPG terrorist organization and they are asking us to block this membership — but these are the issues that we need to talk, of course, with our NATO allies as well as these countries.”

While declining to take a position on the Turkish management’s motives, Finland’s Haavisto harassed that governments “have the right, of course, to put their questions and raise their concerns.” Ankara’s present stance, he stated, “might be a message also, not only to Finland, or Sweden, but also to other NATO countries.” 

Zia Weise contributed to this report.

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