Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is traveling to Finland and Sweden on a two-day visit this Monday. It is likely to be primarily about the planned admission of both countries to NATO, but also about arms deliveries for Ukraine, which is being attacked by Russia. A meeting with Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto and a visit to an underground civil protection facility are planned in the Finnish capital Helsinki.
There are currently fewer places in such protection systems throughout Germany than in Helsinki. There are bunker sites for every 650,000 inhabitants. Finland is considered a world leader in civil protection. After the end of the Cold War, most of the German protective installations were dismantled.
NATO northern expansion blocked
Under the impression of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, Finland and Sweden jointly applied for NATO membership in May 2022. All 30 members of the defense alliance must ratify accession. 28 have already done so, only Hungary and Turkey not yet.
Hungarian objections are not expected, but Turkey has been blocking NATO’s northward expansion for a long time. She justifies her position primarily with the fact that Sweden is not taking sufficient action against terrorist organizations. The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan means above all the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK. The Turkish government was also outraged after right-wing extremists burned the Koran in Sweden in January.
At the end of January, Turkish President Erdogan threatened Sweden that he would only agree to Finland joining NATO. However, Sweden and Finland applied together. Finland immediately rejected the proposal. In Turkey, Erdogan has to fear for his re-election this year.
German Foreign Minister Baerbock also wants to talk about Leopard 2 deliveries. Here she is in Brussels
Discussions about arms deliveries to Ukraine
The talks could also deal with the planned delivery of Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine. Both Sweden and Finland have these tanks. The federal government is still looking for allies willing to deliver them. Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Radio Suomi on Sunday that her government had not yet made a decision on this. Looking at the long Finnish-Russian border, she made it clear that the matter was complicated. Sweden has not yet decided on a main battle tank delivery either. Baerbock will travel there on Tuesday.
Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson also does not rule out that his country will eventually deliver combat aircraft to Ukraine. At the moment the question is not relevant for Sweden, he said last week.
On Monday Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will visit Kristersson in Stockholm. Poland sympathizes with delivering fighter jets to Ukraine but would only do so alongside NATO allies.
lst/kle (dpa, afp)