Turkey and Finland strive to find peaceful solutions to regional and global conflicts, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said.
In an interview published by Anadolu Agency (AA), Haavisto assessed bilateral relations and regional issues during his visit to Turkey during which he met with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
“Both countries seek peaceful solutions to conflicts. Minister Çavuşoğlu told us about Turkey’s last visit to Ukraine at the level of Head of State and Foreign Minister. Of course, we exchanged views on the current Russian-Ukrainian conflict,” he said.
Haavisto said it was worrying that Russia has increased its military presence on the border with Ukraine and that Russia and Belarus are holding joint military exercises.
World leaders, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, are working to resolve the conflict peacefully. To this end, Turkey has offered to host a peace summit between the leaders of Russia and Ukraine.
Russia recently massed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine, raising fears the Kremlin is planning another military offensive against its former Soviet neighbor. Moscow denied preparing to invade and said its troops were there for exercises. The Kremlin also issued a list of security demands from the West, including a rollback of troop deployments in some ex-Soviet states and guarantees that Ukraine and Georgia will not join NATO.
Ankara has already offered to help defuse the standoff and Turkish diplomatic sources have said Russia and Ukraine are open to the idea. Turkey has opposed sanctions threatened by other NATO members in response to a Russian military incursion.
Turkey shares the Black Sea with Ukraine and Russia. Erdoğan said conflict would be unacceptable in the region and warned Russia that an invasion would be unwise.
If Turkey is given a mediating role following the meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ankara will accept the offer to help in the Ukraine crisis in this capacity and try to do its part, Erdoğan also said.
Erdoğan’s visit to fellow Black Sea country Turkey came after visits to Kyiv by the leaders of NATO members Britain, Poland and the Netherlands amid the stalemate. Turkey has good relations with Kyiv and Moscow, but has said it will act as a NATO member if Russia invades.
Stating that Turkey and Finland cooperate on many issues, including trade and tourism, Haavisto added, “We cooperate on many political issues and we should. As two countries, we support the United Nations Group of Friends for mediation and focus on the role of women and young people. in peace processes. (With Çavuşoğlu) we also discussed security issues. We follow the same international crises, such as Afghanistan, Syria and the Horn of Africa. We also discussed the situation in Sudan and Ethiopia, where we are both following developments closely. “
Haavisto noted that the Mediation for Peace initiative, which Turkey started with Finland 10 years ago, is a group of countries that believe that mediation is the best way to resolve disputes and that different practices of mediation are instructive.
Stating that Turkey and Finland form the basis of two United Nations resolutions, Haavsito said: “One is UN Resolution 1325 on women’s peace and security. The other is UN Resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security. As two countries, women and youth are more involved in the peace process. We support the ideas of being more involved.
Reiterating that Turkey is a member of NATO, of which Finland is not a member, Haavisto said he discussed with Çavuşoğlu the policy of keeping NATO’s door open to new members.
“It is very important for Finland and Sweden that we can participate with NATO in military exercises that strengthen our own security. We are also engaging in political discussions with our NATO counterparts as foreign ministers of Sweden and Finland. And of course we count on countries like Turkey to support our participation.”
Regarding discussions on whether his country will become a member of NATO depending on developments in the region, Haavisto said: “Our current security situation is that we are not a member of NATO, but we are in close cooperation with NATO and this The situation meets our needs. Most of our employees are happy with our current policies so far. »
“Under the current circumstances, we are happy with our current position. But of course, we see alarming trends in Europe and we welcome the opening of NATO’s doors to new members. We also welcome the possibility for countries like Finland to decide whether they want to join, but at the moment we have no preparation for NATO membership.
Turkey’s European Process
Haavisto also reiterated that Finland supports Turkey’s membership of the European Union and that Turkey received EU candidate status at the 1999 Helsinki Summit.
Stressing the importance of Turkey being included in EU programs such as Erasmus, especially for young people, Haavisto said such programs are the path towards Turkey-EU cooperation.
Haavisto expressed satisfaction with the cooperation between Turkey and Finland.
Stating that Finns love to vacation in Turkey, Haavisto said he was looking forward to seeing community relations revive after the COVID-19 process.
Saying that they exchanged views on many issues during Çavuşoğlu’s visit to Helsinki last summer, Haavisto recalled that they co-chaired the 11th Ministerial Meetings of the Group of Friends of UN Mediation, held online February 1.
Haavisto said the two countries are making good progress in bilateral relations. He also added that the temporary decrease in the number of tourists arriving from Finland in holiday regions in France will be reversed thanks to the successful fight against the virus in both countries. Haavisto stressed that this number will return to its pre-pandemic level.
Pointing to the potential of the two countries to increase the volume of foreign trade, Haavisto said Finnish Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari will visit Turkey in June with a delegation.