US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Friday he is confident Turkey’s objections to Finland and Sweden joining NATO can be overcome quickly, perhaps in time for a summit of alliance leaders at the end of next month.
At a press conference in Washington with visiting Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, Blinken said the United States had no reason to believe Turkey’s concerns could not be addressed. His comments came after Turkey’s top diplomat said Finland and Sweden must take “concrete steps” before Ankara can boost their membership.
“The United States fully supports the accession of Finland and Sweden to the alliance and I am confident that both will soon be members of NATO,” Blinken said. “We look forward to being able to call Finland and Sweden our allies.”
Haavisto said his country and Sweden had “good negotiations” with the Turks over their concerns in recent days, and said that these discussions would continue with the aim of resolving them before the NATO summit in Madrid at the end of June.
“We agreed to continue those talks,” Haavisto said. We believe that these problems raised by Turkey can be resolved. We hope that some results will be achieved before the NATO summit.”
Sweden and Finland submitted their written applications to join NATO last week. The move represents one of the biggest geopolitical ramifications of the Russian war in Ukraine and could rewrite the security map of Europe.
Member states’ bids require support from all 30 of NATO’s current countries, but Turkey, which commands the alliance’s second largest army, objects to it. She cited alleged support for Kurdish militants, whom Turkey considers terrorists, and restrictions on arms sales to Turkey.
Earlier on Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the negotiating delegations of Finland and Sweden had been given documents detailing Turkey’s concerns, such as information related to terrorist groups, during their visit to Turkey this week. He said Ankara was waiting for specific answers.
Çavuşoğlu said that an “approach” that we would convince Turkey at the right time anyway, we are friends and allies, “would not be correct.” He stressed that “these countries need to take concrete steps.”
“We understand the security concerns of Finland and Sweden but … everyone also needs to understand Turkey’s legitimate security concerns,” he added.
Turkey this week listed five “concrete guarantees” that Sweden had been demanding, including what it said would “end political support for terrorism”, “eliminate the source of terrorist financing” and “stop arms support” to banning the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Syrian Kurdish militia. .
The demands also called for the lifting of arms sanctions against Turkey and global cooperation against terrorism.
Cavusoglu made the remarks at a press conference with the visiting foreign ministers of NATO allies Poland and Romania, both of whom expressed strong support for Finland and Sweden’s bids.
Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said: “There is no doubt that we need Sweden and Finland to join NATO in order to strengthen it.”
Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu agreed, saying that their membership would strengthen our collective defense and security.
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