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.
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 30 and February 1.
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 Ankara links to outlawed Kurdish fighters and a failed 2016 coup attempt.
Ankara 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 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 defence and foreign policy,” he said.