The president admitted there was no change on the issue but expressed satisfaction his country is talking to bid-blocking Turkey
Negotiations with Turkey over its objections to the bids of Finland and Sweden to join NATO constitute progress in itself, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto told journalists on Tuesday. However, he acknowledged there was no change on the issue of the dispute.
"In substance itself there was not that much progress. But surely we have to be satisfied that the discussion is now open," the Finnish leader said during a joint press conference with Roberta Metsola, the president of the European Parliament.
Niinisto was referring to talks that Turkey held in Brussels on Monday with his nation and fellow NATO applicant Sweden. Ankara has blocked the applications to join the US-led military bloc filed by the two Nordic countries last month over what it calls the harboring of Kurdish terrorists and other grievances.
Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal said the talks were held in an "open and sincere atmosphere," and that it was up to the Europeans to respond to Turkish demands swiftly if they want to be accepted into NATO as soon as possible.
"We don't see ourselves limited by any timetable. The speed and scope of this process depends on these nations' manner and speed of meeting our expectations," the official said.
Onal was referring to the upcoming summit of NATO leaders in Madrid on June 29-30. Before Turkey raised its objections, the gathering had been expected to formally approve the applications of Sweden and Finland. The ratification of each member of the alliance is needed for the accession process to be completed.
Asked by a journalist whether he believed his nation would be part of NATO by September, President Niinisto said it was still a possibility but acknowledged that the expectation may not come to fruition.