Madrid, Jun 28 (EFE).- NATO’s secretary general said here Tuesday that Turkey, Sweden and Finland reached consensus on a plan allowing the two Nordic countries to become members of the Atlantic Alliance.
“I am pleased to announce that we now have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO,” Jens Stoltenberg told a press conference in Madrid, where heads of state and government are gathered for the annual summit of the alliance.
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, raised a number of objections to the possible accession of Sweden and Finland, countries he has accused of supporting Kurdish organizations that Ankara regards as terrorists.
All 30 existing NATO members must approve new additions to the alliance.
Tuesday’s breakthough followed what Stoltenberg described as a “very constructive” discussion in the Spanish capital among himself, Erdogan, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.
“Türkiye (the country’s official name), Finland and Sweden have signed a memorandum that addresses Türkiye’s concerns, including around arms exports and the fight against terrorism,” the NATO chief said.
He spoke minutes after the respective foreign ministers, Mevlüt Çavusoglu of Turkey, Finland’s Pekka Haavisto and Ann Linde of Sweden, put their signatures to the pact.
“I strongly welcome the signing of this trilateral memorandum, and I strongly welcome the constructive approach all three countries have shown during the negotiations. Finnish and Swedish membership of NATO is good for Finland and Sweden, it is good for NATO, and it is good for European security,” Stoltenberg said.
The former Norwegian prime minister said that Helsinki and Stockholm pledged to end their embargoes on weapons sales to Turkey, as such measures were unbecoming between allies.
Finland and Sweden likewise undertook to improve cooperation with Turkey in “the struggle against terrorism,” including making changes to domestic legislation, Stoltenberg said.
Both Nordic governments promised “energetic” measures against the PKK, the Kurdish armed group that has battled a succession of Turkish governments for decades, and to conclude extradition agreements with Turkey, he added.
Sweden is home to a Kurdish expatriate population of anywhere from 70,000 to 150,000 people, according to various estimates.
Now that Turkey has withdrawn its objection, Stoltenberg expressed “absolute confidence” that Sweden and Finland will be admitted to NATO.
The two nations sought NATO membership in response to Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. EFE jug-rja/dr