Ankara lifts its veto on Sweden and Finland joining NATO

MADRID | Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been obstructing Sweden and Finland’s NATO accession since mid-May, lifted his veto on Tuesday, avoiding a backlash for the alliance, which is opening its summit in Madrid.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been obstructing Sweden and Finland’s NATO accession since mid-May, lifted his veto on Tuesday, avoiding a backlash for the alliance, which is opening its summit in Madrid.

“I am pleased to announce that we have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO” and “addresses Turkey’s concerns about arms exports and the fight against terrorism,” NATO officials said. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters.

NATO members could therefore officially “invite” the two Nordic countries to join the alliance on Wednesday, he added.

The formal accession of the two countries, which must be ratified by the parliaments of the 30 member states of the alliance, is a long process that takes months.

After several rounds of negotiations in recent weeks, the strongman from Ankara met his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinistö and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson for several hours after his arrival in Madrid.


Before the formal signing of the contract, which Mr. Stoltenberg then reported to the press.

Ankara got “what it wanted”

Turkey blocked Sweden and Finland’s membership, accusing them of harboring militants from the Kurdish organization PKK, which it considers “terrorist”.

She also condemned the presence in those countries of supporters of the preacher Fethullah Gülen, who is suspected of organizing an attempted coup in Turkey in July 2016.

And also called for the lifting of the arms export blockades decided against him by Stockholm after the Turkish military intervention in northern Syria in October 2019.

According to Mr. Stoltenberg, as part of this agreement, the two Nordic countries have committed to “intensify their cooperation” in the fight against terrorism with Ankara and to agree “extraditions” of members of Kurdish organizations that Turkey considers “terrorists”. .

“Turkey got what it wanted”, that is, the “full cooperation” of the Nordic countries against the PKK and its allies, the Turkish presidency said in its press release.

In an interview with AFP, Magdalena Andersson hailed a “very important step for NATO” as the two Nordic countries, which have decided to give up their neutrality since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, “will provide security within the alliance.

“No concessions” from Washington

This green light from Ankara to enter the two Nordic countries was immediately welcomed by a senior White House official, who said it was giving Western unity a “powerful boost” at this troubled time from the war in Ukraine.

For his part, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson believed that the accession of the two Nordic countries would make the alliance “stronger and more secure”.

Washington claimed that Turkey made “no specific request for concessions from the Americans” to lift its opposition to Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

Mr Erdogan is due to meet Joe Biden on the sidelines of the summit on Wednesday.

Before leaving for Madrid, the Turkish President had stressed that the “most important issue” between Ankara and Washington was “that of the F-16”, in relation to the fighter jets ordered and partially paid for by Ankara, but of which Washington suspended the supply contract , after Turkey acquired a Russian S-400 anti-aircraft system.

The last meeting between MM. Biden and Erdogan dates back to last October in Rome, on the sidelines of the G-20, the summit of the 20 most industrialized countries, after months of estrangement between Ankara and Washington.

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