Saturday, August 13

Turkey lifts objections to Finland and Sweden’s Nato bid | Born

A last minute agreement has been reached between Turkey, Finland and Sweden to allow the two Nordic countries to become Nato members on the eve of the military alliance’s summit in Madrid.

Nato said a trilateral deal had been reached at a meeting between Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, president Sauli Niinistö of Finland and Swedish prime minister Magdalena Andersson in the Spanish capital.

Following a period of intensive negotiations, Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary general, said on Tuesday evening: “I am 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,” he added.

Sweden and Finland had historically declined to seek Nato membership, partly because of mixed public opinion and caution around their security relationship with Russia. But that changed dramatically after Russia launched an unprovoked attack on Ukraine in February, prompting both countries to ask to join.

It means the Swedish and Finnish leaders will be able to attend the Nato summit on Wednesday and Thursday as invitees, meaning that their countries are on a firm path to full membership, subject only to ratification by member states. That is considered a technical step.

Turkey had said it would block the applications of Sweden and Finland unless it received satisfactory assurances that the Nordic countries are willing to address what it regards as support for Kurdish groups it designates as terrorist organisations, in particular the Kurdistan workers party, the PKK.

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Because Nato operates by consensus, it is possible for one country in the 30-strong military alliance to block an application, giving Ankara leverage when the two countries sought to join earlier this year.

Turkey “got what it wanted” from Sweden and Finland before agreeing to back their drives to join Nato, Erdoğan’s office said on Tuesday. “Turkey has made significant gains in the fight against terrorist organisations,” said the Turkish statement, adding: “Turkey got what it wanted.”

The text of the memorandum signed by all three leaders says that Finland and Sweden will “extend their full support” to Turkey in matters of national security. The Nordic countries said they confirmed that the PKK was a proscribed organization – and in a key concession the two countries would “not provide support” to Syrian Kurdish PYD/YPG groups that have been active in the fight against Islamic State in Syria. Finland and Sweden affirmed in the deal there were no national arms embargoes relating to sales to Turkey and all three countries said they would work together on extradition requests.

Sweden is home to 100,000 Kurdish refugees and Turkey has called for the extradition of individuals it says are linked to the PKK or the Syrian YPG.

Stoltenberg said Finland and Sweden had agreed to a “further amending their domestic legislation” to give Turkey the anti-terror reassurances it had sought, and they would be “cracking down on PKK activities” and “entering into an agreement with Turkey on extradition” .

Boris Johnson greeted the announcement, tweeting: “Fantastic news as we kick off the NATO Summit. Sweden and Finland’s membership will make our brilliant alliance stronger and safer.”

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