Turkey could evaluate Finland's NATO bid separately from that of Sweden, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Monday(January 30), after protests including the burning of a Koran in Stockholm sparked outrage in Ankara, Reuters reports.
"It is a fair approach to set a difference between a problematic country and a less problematic one. We can evaluate (Finnish and Swedish) NATO applications separately if NATO and those countries make a decision about it," Çavuşoğlu said.
Sweden and Finland applied last year to join NATO following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and need all member countries' approval to join. Turkey and Hungary are yet to ratify the Nordic countries' membership.
President Tayyip Erdogan has thrust the debate over NATO expansion into a campaign ahead of Turkey's tight presidential and parliamentary elections in May, rallying his supporters.
Turkey is never against NATO's expansion, Çavuşoğlu added. But the steps taken by Sweden according to a trilateral agreement signed last year are not enough, he said.