A majority of Finns want to go it alone and join Nato without Sweden, if the latter country’s membership is delayed, a poll suggested on Thursday, after Turkey said it could accept Finland without Sweden.
Published: 2 February 2023 11:12 CET
The Nato and Swedish flags at Harpsund, the Swedish Prime Minister’s country retreat. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
More than half of respondents, 53 percent, replied negatively 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 by Taloustutkimus, published by Finnish daily Ilta-Sanomat, surveyed 1,021 Finns between January 30th and February 1st.
Finland and Sweden dropped decades of military non-alignment and applied to join Nato in May 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 Turkey links to outlawed Kurdish fighters and a failed 2016 coup attempt.
Turkey has also reacted with fury to a decision by the Swedish police to allow a protest at which a far-right extremist burned a copy of the Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm earlier this month.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan 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,” Erdogan said.
The Finnish government has so far stressed that its priority is still to join the alliance together with its Nordic neighbour.
“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 defence and foreign policy,” he said.