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NATO: Sweden, Finland, Turkey meet over accession bids

August 26, 2022

Envoys of the three countries were meeting for the first time since their key agreement in June. Ankara's opposition has continued to work as an obstacle for Finnish and Swedish NATO accession.

The Finnish and Swedish flags over a NATO flag
Turkey has dashed the hopes of a quick processing of Sweden and Finland's NATO applicationsImage: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto/picture alliance

Official representatives from Turkey, Finland and Sweden met close to the Finnish capital on Friday in an attempt to advance the bids by the two Nordic countries to join the NATO alliance.

Friday's talks in the city of Vantaa were the first since the three signed an agreement in Madrid in June.

Turkey is the only NATO member to explicitly oppose Helsinki and Stockholm's accession, claiming they had imposed an arms embargo against Ankara while harboring individuals it deems "terrorists."

What did the sides say after the meeting?

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto described the meeting as setting out goals for cooperation and establishing contacts as agreed in Madrid.

"The participants discussed the concrete steps to implement the Trilateral Memorandum and agreed that [the countries] will continue to meet at the expert level during the autumn," his ministry said after the meeting.

Turkish presidential policy advisor Ibrahim Kalin, who took part in the meeting on Ankara's behalf, said that Stockholm and Helsinki were open to Turkey's demands.

"Finland and Sweden have renewed their commitment to demonstrate full solidarity and cooperation with Turkey in the fight against all forms and manifestations of terror," Kalin's office said in a statement.

Turkey's opposition

June's agreement set the way for the clearing obstacles, but Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to freeze the application process shortly afterward.

Sweden announced its first extradition of a Turkish citizen earlier in the month, as part of the Madrid deal, but Turkey said this week that this still falls far short of what Sweden agreed to.

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More than half of NATO member countries have already ratified the accession of the two Nordic countries into the alliance — a step that was taken in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February — but unanimous consent is needed for a new member to be accepted.

ab/fb (AFP, Reuters)