NATO embraces Nordics, hopes Turkey supports alliance expansion

By Javier Alonso

Berlin, May 15 (EFE).- NATO on Sunday said Finland and Sweden would be welcomed “with open arms” if they decided to join the defense alliance adding that it hopes to convince Turkey to support the expansion.

“They meet the standards and participate in joint missions,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said at an informal NATO meeting in Berlin.

Baerbock added that Germany will even initiate preparations for a quick ratification process to approve their membership applications.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said they were confident that the alliance would reach a consensus with Turkey on the Nordic countries’ bids, in light of the threat posed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I heard almost across the board, very strong support” for Sweden and Finland joining the alliance, Blinken told reporters.

Stoltenberg, meanwhile, said: “I am confident we’ll be able to find common ground, consensus on how to move on membership issues.”

Ankara voiced its opposition to the accession process on Friday when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his nation does not view Finland and Sweden’s bid to join the alliance positively, accusing them both of backing terrorism.

The Turkish leader criticized both countries’ alleged support for Kurdish activists and others whom Turkey considers “terrorists.”

He argued that Turkey does not want to repeat the “mistake” it made when Ankara approved Greece’s entry into NATO, after which Ankara contends that Athens manipulated the alliance against Turkey.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin officially confirmed Finland’s intention to join NATO on Sunday, although that plan must be approved by the country’s parliament.

“Today is a historic day, a new era opens. A protected Finland is born as part of a stable, strong Nordic region aware of its responsibilities,” Niinisto said at a press conference in Helsinki.

Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic Party also gave a green light to the country’s application for NATO membership after a special meeting on Sunday.

Both Finland and Sweden’s switch of their decades-long military non-alignment policy comes in response to Russia’s attack on its neighbor.

The invasion of Ukraine shows “in a brutal way why we need the union. Peace does not come from heaven,” Baerbock said during the 30-member alliance meeting.

Meanwhile, Blinken voiced Washington’s full support for NATO expansion and reiterated support for Ukraine in its war against Russia “for as long as necessary.”

EFE jam/smq-bp

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