Finland is hoping for Erdogan’s magic words about joining NATO

Good morning Yesterday, Brussels unveiled its much-vaunted initiative to boost EU’s green technology industries; and then those very same industries said it would fail without more money to support it.

Today Finland’s President is in Turkey, where our Nordic correspondent says his host may well bring good news about Helsinki’s bid for NATO membership. And our man in the Balkans has a dose of brutal realism for those hoping that a Serbia-Kosovo meeting tomorrow could bring a major breakthrough in their efforts to normalize their ties.

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When two become one?

The long and awkward dance to get Turkey to agree to Finland’s NATO membership should finally find its resolution today – but Sweden will stand awkwardly looking for a partner writes Richard Milnes.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has summoned his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinistö to deliver the news in person, presumably to tell him that Turkey’s parliament will ratify Nato membership for Helsinki ahead of next month’s elections.

Context: Both Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership after Russia invaded Ukraine. It needs the unanimous support of existing members. All but Turkey and Hungary have ratified. Turkey has withheld both offers, seeking concessions notably from Sweden regarding longstanding ties to various Kurdish groups that Ankara considers terrorists.

The ultra-serious Finns, well aware from their history of what Russia can do to its neighbors, would find it hard to believe that other countries have attempted to carve out a national advantage for their security at such a sensitive time.

Still, smoke signals for Turkey, which agrees with Finland but not Sweden, have intensified in recent days. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said on Tuesday the chances of Helsinki taking first place had increased significantly. Then Niinistö received his invitation to Turkey, where he stopped off yesterday in the earthquake-damaged south-east of the country.

This is typical of the stylish manner in which Niinistö and other Finnish officials have behaved throughout, contrasting with their professionalism against the more careless nature of the Swedes, who are plagued by Turkish anger at Stockholm’s long-standing ties to the Kurdish groups were surprised.

Swedish and NATO officials believe that Stockholm will join NATO before the July summit in Vilnius. But expect “another round in the bazaar,” as the officials say, while Sweden seeks to soften Turkish opposition.

And then there’s the prankster of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has repeatedly delayed his country’s ratification of both Finland and Sweden, possibly to try to apply pressure in his discussions of EU funds. A vote in Budapest is due by the end of this month.

Chart du jour: choking on fumes

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Germany’s last-minute blockade of a previously agreed EU ban on internal combustion engines has prompted rethinking in other European capitals about other green reforms that could jeopardize the EU’s climate ambitions.

overcoming the split

Pressure is mounting on Serbia and Kosovo to adopt a plan to normalize ties as their leaders meet for another EU-moderated summit in the Balkan city of Ohrid tomorrow. writes Martin Dunai.

Context: Belgrade and Pristina have been at odds over the sovereignty of Kosovo since the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Kosovo’s Albanian majority is demanding recognition and independence, but Serbia and a vocal Kosovo Serb minority are claiming historic unity.

After a recent flare-up in tension, a diplomatic offensive between Europe and the US has led Serbia and Kosovo to step back and consider an EU proposal.

But don’t expect a breakthrough this weekend.

Although the plan was technically agreed with the EU last month, it has not been signed and the gulf over the fine print is still as deep as Lake Ohrid.

The agreement does not envisage Serbian opposition to Kosovo’s membership “in any international organization” (Pristina demands UN membership); and assurances of “self-government for the Serb community in Kosovo” (Belgrade wants to set up an association of Serb-majority communities, a kind of mini-government).

A similar version was on the table last fall, with a deadline for adoption of March 2023. But Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić has said he will never allow Kosovo to join the UN. And the Constitutional Court of Pristina has rejected the Serbian local government’s proposal.

EU and US officials came to the Balkans this week to massaging delegations. Senior US envoy Gabriel Escobar told a press conference in Belgrade that a formal deal was “possible” — not in March but sometime this year.

Tomorrow, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti – who once served time in the prisons of Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milošević – will sit down again to try to work things out with Vučić – Milošević’s propaganda minister at the time.

Yes, the gulf is deep.

What is there to see today?

  1. EU-North Macedonia Association Council in Skopje

  2. Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz travels to Japan.

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