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Majority of Finns nix waiting for Sweden to join NATO together: poll

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A majority of Finns want to go ahead and join NATO even if Sweden’s membership is delayed, a poll suggested Thursday, after Turkey said it could accept Finland without Sweden, Agence France-Presse reported.

More than half of respondents, 53 percent, replied in the negative when asked whether Finland should wait for Sweden, even “if it takes longer to ratify Sweden’s accession, for example because of opposition from Turkey.”

Only 28 percent believed Finland should wait for Sweden and enter the US-led military alliance together.

The poll, conducted by Taloustutkimus and published in the Finnish Ilta-Sanomat daily, surveyed 1,021 Finns between Jan. 30 and Feb. 1.

Finland and Sweden abandoned decades of military non-alignment and applied to join NATO in May of last year in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But Turkey has so far refused to ratify the two countries’ membership bids, primarily because of Sweden’s refusal to extradite dozens of suspects that Ankara links to outlawed Kurdish fighters and a failed 2016 coup attempt.

Ankara also reacted with anger to a decision by the Swedish police to allow a demonstration in January at which a far-right extremist burned a copy of the Quran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday drew a clear distinction between the positions taken by Sweden and Finland in the past few months.

“If necessary, we can give a different response concerning Finland. Sweden will be shocked when we give a different response for Finland,” Erdoğan said.

The Finnish government has so far stressed that its priority is still to join the alliance together with its Nordic neighbor.

“Our strong desire in Finland has been, and still is, to join NATO together with Sweden,” Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told reporters on Monday.

“Sweden is our closest ally in defense and foreign policy,” he said.

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