NATO expects that the Nordic countries’ candidacy for membership will not be hindered by Ankara, whose concerns will be taken into account.
NATO and the United States say they are convinced that Turkey will not prevent Finland and Sweden from joining the Western military alliance, despite Ankara’s reservations.
Turkey made demands Sunday on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin, saying it wanted the two Nordic countries to end support for Kurdish militant groups on their territory and lift the ban. ban on the sale of certain weapons to Turkey. .
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his talks with his Swedish and Finnish counterparts in Berlin had been helpful.
Both countries had made suggestions to address Ankara’s concerns, which Turkey would consider.
Cavusoglu added that he had provided proof that “terrorists” were present on their territory.
In particular, he pointed the finger at Sweden, saying that the Kurdish militant group of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), banned as “terrorist” by the United States and the European Union, had held meetings in Stockholm this weekend. end.
Nevertheless, he said, Turkey has not objected to the alliance’s policy of being open to all European nations wishing to apply.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he was confident “that we will be able to address the concerns expressed by Turkey in a way that does not delay membership”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken declined to go into specifics after closed-door conversations on the issue in Berlin, but echoed Stoltenberg’s position.
“I’m very confident that we’ll reach consensus on this,” Blinken told reporters, adding that NATO was “a place for dialogue.”
Finland and Sweden on Sunday took firm steps to join NATO in response to Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine, breaking with a tradition of non-alignment and neutrality.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto has confirmed that his country will apply to join, while Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats have announced a formal policy change that will pave the way for their country’s bid within days.
“Today the Swedish Social Democratic Party has taken the historic decision to say yes to joining the NATO defense alliance,” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde tweeted.
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine has deteriorated the security situation in Sweden and Europe as a whole.”
Today, Sweden’s Social Democratic Party took the historic decision to say yes to its candidacy for membership of the NATO defense alliance. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has deteriorated the security situation in Sweden and Europe as a whole. https://t.co/UkEcFhfwXZ
— Ann Linde (@AnnLinde) May 15, 2022
Any decision on NATO enlargement must be approved by the 30 allies and their parliaments.
Ankara, a NATO member for 70 years, is under immense pressure to give in to Finland and Sweden joining, which would greatly strengthen the alliance in the Baltic Sea.
If Turkey’s objections are overcome, approval could come in just weeks, although ratification by allied parliaments could take up to a year, diplomats and officials said.
Moscow reacted to the prospect of Nordic states joining NATO by threatening reprisals, including unspecified “military-technical measures”.
Finn Niinisto, who spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, said their conversation was measured and contained no threats.
“[Putin] confirmed that he thinks it’s a mistake. We are not threatening you. Overall the discussion was very, might I say, calm and cool,” Niinisto said in an interview with CNN.