NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced an agreement between Turkey, Sweden and Finland that has made it possible to reverse Ankara’s veto to the accession of these two Nordic countries to the Atlantic alliance. The Turkish government said that Sweden and Finland accepted its demands to lift the veto on its entry into NATO, including the extradition of Kurdish militants considered terrorists by Ankara.
Sweden and Finland formally requested to join the Atlantic alliance in May, considering that they feel threatened by Russia’s attack on Ukraine, breaking with their traditional neutrality in military matters. The leaders of the 30 NATO countries opened a summit in Spain on Tuesday in which they discuss their response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which the alliance says caused a fundamental change in its policy and forces its members to increase spending. in defence.
Stoltenberg’s “absolute trust”
“I am pleased to announce that we have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO”indicated Stoltenberg at a press conference in Madrid. The secretary general of the alliance explained that he had a “very constructive meeting” with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoganthe president of Finland, Sauli Niinistöand the Swedish Prime Minister, Magdalena Anderssonabout the Turkish restrictions.
Moments before his appearance, Stoltenberg witnessed, together with the three leaders, the signing, before the press, of “a memorandum addressing Turkey’s concerns”including the question of arms exports and the fight against terrorism. . . . The document was signed by Turkish Foreign Ministers Mevlüt Çavusoglu; Finland, Pekka Haavisto, and Sweden, Ann Linde, with the mediation of Stoltenberg.
The former Norwegian prime minister said that this Wednesday, during the first day of the summit, that the allied leaders “will make the decision to invite Finland and Sweden to join NATO to become members”, and added that after the meeting in Madrid they will become officially “invited” to enter the transatlantic club.
A ratification procedure in the capitals of all member states will then be necessary for Sweden and Finland to formally become members of the alliance and be covered by Article 5 of the Washington treaty on collective defence. In any case, Stoltenberg showed “absolute confidence” that this procedure will be successful.
A high-ranking White House official explained in a call with reporters that during the negotiations between the three parties, the representatives of Finland and Sweden came out for a moment to consult US President Joe Biden’s support for the agreement. The source explained that Finland and Sweden wanted to make sure that Biden would back the deal before announcing it, so after his meeting with King Felipe VI of Spain in Madrid, Biden conveyed his approval.
According to a statement issued by sources from the Turkish delegation at the NATO summit in Madrid, the two Nordic countries agree to “fully cooperate with Turkey in the fight against the PKK (Kurdish guerrilla active in Turkish territory) and its extensions”.
The pact states that it will increase cooperation in the fight against terrorism and organized crime, such as, for example, “taking concrete measures on the extradition of terrorist criminals.” In fact, the Turkish note indicates that there is a commitment on the part of Sweden and Finland to “modify the national legislation and practices” of those countries in the fight against terrorism.
The PKK is already considered a terrorist by the European Union and the United States, a status that the Syrian Kurdish YPG militias do not have, allies of Washington in the fight against the jihadist Islamic State, and that Ankara considers a mere extension of the PKK. The agreement signed by the three countries, which allows Sweden and Finland to be invited to start the accession process, includes not supporting the YPG.
FETO, as Ankara calls the Islamist sect allied with Erdogan years ago and which the Turkish government accuses of the failed coup of 2016, is also designated as a terrorist. In addition, Turkey claims it has succeeded in getting Sweden and Finland to lift restrictions on arms deliveriesan embargo dictated precisely due to the different invasions launched by the Turks on Syrian soil since 2018 to combat the Syrian militias.
The accession of new members to the alliance requires the unanimous support of the 30 member countries and Turkey was the only one who opposed the entry of Finland and Sweden. Russia, for its part, repeatedly warned that the entry of these Nordic countries into NATO would have consequences both for their bilateral relations and for the European security architecture as a whole.
A summit dedicated to the war in Ukraine
The president of the United States, Joe Biden, the Frenchman Emmanuel Macron, the prime ministers of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, and of Germany, Olaf Scholz, are some of the more than 40 heads of state and government attending the Madrid summit , among them the 30 NATO allies, and those of a dozen invited countries, such as Sweden and Finland, candidates to join the bloc, or those of Australia and Japan.
Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky will speak at the summit on Wednesday via videoconference. In addition to reaffirming the commitments with Ukraine in the face of the Russian attack, the meeting aims to establish a new “strategic concept”, a central document that has not been updated since 2010, strengthen the eastern flank of the alliance and discuss China’s growing influence in the area of the Peaceful.