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Tuesday, September 27, 2022
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Turkey to Allow Finland and Sweden to Join NATO


Turkey's President and leader of the Justice and Development Party Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech. | Image by Aden Altan/Getty Images

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Turkey is dropping its objection to Finland and Sweden’s bid to join NATO, opening the door to one of the military alliance’s most significant expansions in decades.

As reported in The Dallas Express, Finland and Sweden submitted official applications to join NATO in May, seeking to end decades of official neutrality on the world stage.

Turkey had declared it would not accede to the two Nordic nations’ admission while they continued to harbor so-called Kurdish “terrorist organizations.”

However, in a stunning reversal on Tuesday, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö announced that the three countries had signed a joint memorandum that underscored a commitment “to extend their full support against threats to each other’s security,” according to CNN.

Niinistö stated, “The concrete steps of our accession to NATO will be agreed by the NATO allies during the next two days, but that decision is now imminent.”

Speaking to journalists in Madrid about the signing of the memorandum, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, “I’m pleased to announce that we now have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO. Turkey, Finland, and Sweden have signed a memorandum that addresses Turkey’s concerns, including around arms exports and the fight against terrorism.”

Turkish diplomats met with their Finnish and Swedish counterparts to discuss the matter with Stoltenberg in Brussels on Monday, the day before the summit began, according to NATO’s newsroom.

Following the discussions, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde spoke with a reporter from the Svenska Dagbladet and told them negotiations with Turkey were progressing and that “something positive” could occur in Madrid. Still, she cautioned there was no guarantee of any breakthrough at the summit, per AP News.

For his part, Erdogan commented as he left Ankara for Madrid, stating, “We don’t want empty words. We want results.”

One unidentified European official told CNN, “My best projection based on what I’ve seen is that they (Turkey) will run this to the wire at Madrid … It is Turkey’s standard operating procedure not to give concessions till the last possible moment.”

With two days left to go at the G7 summit, NATO leaders may now prioritize debating and putting forth a framework by which Finland and Sweden will join the alliance.

It is unclear what the joint memorandum will mean for the points of contention that led Turkey to withhold its consent in the first place.

Finland and Sweden deny harboring any terrorist organizations, but the Turkish government insists that both countries allow members of the separatist group Kurdistan’s Workers Party to reside within their borders.

Additionally, the Turkish government reportedly resents Finland and Sweden for suspending weapons sales to Turkey in 2019 over its incursion into northern Syria to eliminate Kurdish fighters.

The summit’s stated purpose was to discuss NATO’s ongoing response to Russia’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine, but this recent development could completely reconfigure what that looks like.

It comes at a time when the Ukrainian government is reporting increased casualties, and Russian occupying forces are making gains in Ukraine’s Donbas region.

The 30-member military alliance was expected to bolster its eastern defenses in a show of force against Russia. It may, in addition, and to the same effect, become a 32-member alliance. 

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2 months ago

But is this what the citizens of Finland and Sweden want. Has Sweden not been a neutral country throughout the wars and was respected as such. What changed?

Reply to  CITIZEN
2 months ago

 Winston Churchill said of Swedish neutrality in World War II, that Sweden “ignored the greater moral issues of the war and played both sides for profit”. Their “neutrality” meant cooperating with both sides but much more with Germany than with the Allied.