Turkey got the pledges it asked for. Obstacle since mid-May to the entry of Sweden and Finland into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Ankara ended up lifting its veto on Tuesday June 28, announced the Alliance and the three countries.
“I am delighted to announce that we have an agreement which paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO” and who responds to « Turkey’s concerns about arms exports and the fight against terrorism », said the Secretary General of the Atlantic Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg. NATO countries will be able » invite « officially on Wednesday these two Nordic countries to join the Alliance, he added.
The formal entry 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.
This agreement, first confirmed by the Finnish presidency, was obtained after several hours of discussions between the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinistö, and the Swedish prime minister, Magdalena Andersson. Mr. Stoltenberg was present as a mediator.
Turkey ‘got what it wanted’
Turkey was blocking Sweden and Finland from joining because it accused them of harboring militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which it considers « terrorist ». She also denounced the presence in these countries of supporters of the preacher Fethullah Gülen, suspected of having orchestrated a coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016.
Turkey also demanded the lifting of the blockades of arms exports decided against it by Stockholm after the Turkish military intervention in northern Syria in October 2019.
At the end of the discussions, the Turkish presidency made it known that “Turkey got what it wanted”. The two candidate countries are committed to « full cooperation with Turkey in the fight » against the PKK, as well as against the movements affiliated with it. The Turkish presidency also specifies that the two new entrants will take “concrete measures for the extradition of terrorist criminals” of their territories and for “prohibit the fundraising and recruitment activities of the PKK and its affiliates” at their home.
Helsinki and Stockholm also commit to “show solidarity with Turkey in the fight against terrorism in all its forms”, is specified in this text. Similarly, the two capitals have agreed not to “not impose restrictions or embargoes on defense industries”continued the Turkish presidency.
« Powerful momentum »
Ankara also welcomed the fact that the Fetö movement of the preacher Fetullah Gülen, based in the United States and which Mr. Erdogan holds responsible for the 2016 coup attempt, is recognized as « a terrorist organization » as well as the PKK, the People’s Protection Units (YPG, armed wing of the Syrian Democratic Unity Party) and others. Turkey, however, did not formulate « of particular request for concessions to the Americans » to lift its opposition to NATO expansion, a senior White House official said on Tuesday.
Magdalena Andersson hailed a “very important step for NATO” because the two Nordic countries, which have decided to abandon their neutrality since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, “will be providers of security within” of the Alliance.
This green light from Ankara to the entry of the two Nordic countries was also immediately welcomed by a senior White House official, according to whom it gives a « powerful momentum » to Western unity in this troubled period of war in Ukraine.
The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, estimated for his part that the accession of the two Nordic countries would make the Alliance « stronger and safer ».