Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) shakes hands with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a joint press conference in Ankara, Türkiye, on Feb. 16, 2023. (Photo by Mustafa Kaya/Xinhua)
ANKARA, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) — Turkish Foreign Minister reiterated Thursday that his country can evaluate Finland and Sweden’s bids to join NATO separately.
“We could evaluate Finland’s NATO membership process separately from Sweden,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Turkish capital of Ankara.
“Türkiye’s position on the membership of the two countries has been clear and unambiguous from the beginning,” he added.
Stoltenberg, being asked whether the two countries’ NATO accession must be at the same time, said “the main issue is not that they are ratified together. The main issue is that they are ratified as soon as possible.”
Finland and Sweden submitted their formal membership requests in May 2022. Türkiye, which is the only member yet to ratify, demands the two countries to “speedily and thoroughly” extradite Turkish-deemed terror suspects.
Cavusoglu earlier said that NATO and the two Nordic countries initially requested their membership process to be carried out together. Since then, Finland has taken some steps, but there were “provocations” in Sweden, he added.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Türkiye may show a different approach to Finland’s NATO bid than Sweden, if necessary. ■