On the eve of NATO’s summit in Madrid, Turkey dropped its opposition to Sweden and Finland becoming NATO members. They signed a joint memorandum after the talks on Tuesday between Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogen, Finland’s president, Sauli Niinisto, and the prime minister of Sweden, Magdalena Andersson.
This meeting was done by NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, who pleasantly announced the agreement between the countries, and the significant obstruction had been removed. This memorandum confirmed that Turkey will support Sweden and Finland becoming members of NATO at the Madrid summit. The Nordic countries will receive an official invitation for the summit on Wednesday and Thursday. Thi sets them on a firm path to their full membership. Although a ratification process will need to happen in the other NATO capitals.
The meeting addressed Turkey’s concerns of terrorism because of the Kurdish organisation, Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which they viewed as a terrorist organisation. This is partly the reason why they previously blocked Finland and Sweden from applying to NATO back in May, as they were accused of harbouring members from the PKK. Since NATO operates on census, so it is entirely possible for one country to block an application out of the strong 30-military alliance.
Sweden and Finland have confirmed they viewed the PKK as a proscribed organisation. So they would not provide support for the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), and People’s Protection Units (YPG) that have been actively fighting against Islamic State in Syria. The memorandum emphasises the commitment of the three countries to extend their full support for each other’s security, if they were to be under threat.
Turkey has requested the extratradition of suspected militants among the 100,000 Kurdish refugees that reside in Sweden as quoted in The Guardian. Finland along with Sweden, have agreed to further amend their domestic legislation, giving Turkey the reassurance it wanted of stopping PKK activities.
Another reason Sweden and Finland have not seeked NATO membership is because of a mixed public opinion , concerning their security relationship with Russia. The change came after Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine in February. This promoted both countries to join.
Joe Biden congratulated the countries for the deal, and Deborah Haynes (Security and Defence Editor) called it a perfect start to the NATO summit. It sends a message of unity and strength to counterattack President Vladimir Putin. However, this expansion of the defensive military alliance in the West, President Putin has used as pretext for its against Ukraine. Instead of the West being deterred with this, it has cleared the path for the Nordic countries to join NATO.
President Biden is expected to meet with Erdogan on Wednesday to discuss strategic issues. The details of the meeting have not been confirmed but they would have a chance to speak. Prime Minister Boris Johnson responded to the announcement as “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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