NATO talks between Finland, Sweden and Turkey on right path, says Secretary-General
NATO talks between Finland, Sweden and Turkey wound up in Brussels on Thursday with promises to meet again before the western alliance’s July summit in Lithuania.
“The parties agreed that the decision to invite Finland and Sweden to become NATO members was historic,” NATO said in a news release after the meeting. “They further agreed that rapid ratifications for both Finland and Sweden would be in everyone’s interest, and that their membership will strengthen the Alliance.”
“Türkiye [Turkey], Finland, and Sweden also agreed on the long-term value of the Permanent Joint Mechanism in fighting terrorism and agreed to continue cooperation in this format and meet again before the Vilnius Summit.
Finland and Sweden made the decision to join NATO in 2022 after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and stressed the desire to enter together.
NATO approved their applications and the accession protocols for both countries were signed on July 5.
Of the alliance’s 30 member countries, 28 ratified the protocols, with Turkey and Hungary the only remaining ones to do so.
Ankara has balked saying Finland, and particularly Sweden, harbour Kurdish militants that are wanted in Turkey.
‘Time for all Allies to conclude the ratification process’
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday that discussions between the three countries are heading in the right direction.
“Finland and Sweden have taken unprecedented steps to address legitimate Turkish security concerns,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.
“It is now time for all Allies to conclude the ratification process and welcome Finland and Sweden as full members of the Alliance ahead of the upcoming NATO Summit in Vilnius.”
‘Swedish anti-terrorism legislation is therefore good for both Sweden and our future Allies’
NATO said concrete steps have been made to iron out differences including no arms export restrictions between the countries, better counter-terrorism cooperation and moves by Sweden to tighten anti-terrorism legislation including against the PKK.
“Türkiye is very familiar with the threat of terrorism, not least from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK),” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said in a separate news release on Friday.
“Strengthening Swedish anti-terrorism legislation is therefore good for both Sweden and our future Allies. Sweden has delivered results on all parts of the agreement, and which we will continue to fulfil until we become members – and thereafter.”
The Swedish government presented its NATO membership bill to the Riksdag on Wednesday.
“We are continuing the broad cooperation with the parties in the Riksdag in the process of leading Sweden into NATO,” Kristersson said.
“There is very strong and widespread support in the Riksdag for Sweden’s NATO accession, and our assessment is that the Riksdag will take a decision on the NATO bill in a couple of weeks. This will make Sweden completely ready to become a NATO member.”
Next meeting in spring
Finland offered a limited statement from their Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
“The discussions focused on the implementation of the memorandum signed in Madrid in June 2022. The countries agreed that the next meeting of the Permanent Mechanism would take place later this spring and that cooperation would continue also after the accession process of Finland and Sweden has been completed.”
Finland’s parliament approved the country’s NATO membership on March 1 with a vote of 184-7.
Write to Eilís Quinn at email@example.com
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