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Erdoğan says Turkey positive on Finland’s NATO bid, not Sweden’s

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has expressed positive views towards Finland’s application for NATO membership but does not support Sweden’s bid, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Ankara wants Helsinki and Stockholm, in particular, to take a tougher line against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, and another group it blames for a 2016 coup attempt.

The three countries reached an agreement on a way forward in Madrid last June, but Ankara suspended talks last month as tensions rose following protests in Stockholm in which a far-right Danish politician burned a copy of the Muslim holy book, the Quran.

According to Erdoğan, Sweden’s NATO application will not be approved as long as they allow such incidents.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said Finland is sticking to its joint application plan with Sweden.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoglu said Turkey would reconsider Finland’s membership separately and more favorably if NATO and the two countries decide on separate membership processes.

“Finland continues to advance the membership process together with Sweden,” the joint presidential and government committee on Finnish security and foreign policy said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The fastest possible realisation of both countries’ memberships is in the best interest of Finland, Sweden and the whole NATO,” it added.

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