NATO minister ‘confident’ Turkey won’t block Sweden and Finland from joining

Foreign ministers from several NATO countries hope that Turkey will change its mind against Sweden and Finland joining the Western defense alliance, and that the two countries will join quickly.

“We want to resolve this situation through direct dialogue between the three countries,” Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu said on Sunday ahead of consultations with his NATO counterpart in Berlin.

He said there had been “contacts” between Turkey, Sweden and Finland on Saturday night to “discuss the possibility of moving forward”. “I totally understand Turkey’s concerns . . .[but]We should not lose motivation. . . especially in the current situation,” he said.

Luxembourg’s foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, said he was “confident” Turkey would make concessions. “Of course, Turkey is difficult at times, and we are at times difficult,” he said.

NATO foreign ministers will discuss the war in Ukraine on Sunday and how they can step up aid to the authorities in Kyiv. They will also discuss NATO’s new strategic concept ahead of the NATO summit in Madrid in June. This will identify the security challenges NATO faces and outline the political and military missions it will undertake to address them.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock said there should be no delay in bringing Sweden and Finland into NATO. “There should be no . . . grey areas,” she said before the informal meeting, adding that she hoped the two countries would “join soon.”

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Jolly said: “The opportunity for alliances to meet at this moment is greater than any other bilateral issue.”

On Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke out against allowing Sweden and Finland to join NATO, saying he could not be “positive” about their potential membership.

As a reason for his opposition, he cited their support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long armed insurgency against the Turkish state. It is listed as a terrorist organization by Ankara, the United States and the European Union. Erdogan said the Scandinavian country was “like some kind of guest house for terrorist groups”.

But Turkey appears to be the only country to take that stance, with most NATO members expressing strong support for Finland and Sweden to join.

On Saturday evening, the foreign ministers of Sweden and Finland discussed their membership at a dinner in Berlin with their NATO colleagues.

“If they decide to seek accession, I am sure allies will view their membership in this alliance constructively and positively,” said NATO Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Joana.

He described the two countries as “vibrant democracies” with “impeccable” records on the rule of law and “great militaries” that are “very interoperable with the rest of NATO”.

Many countries never thought about joining a defense treaty, “but now they’re being pushed into NATO by Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine,” Belbok said.

She added that the German government would ensure “swift approval” for Sweden and Finland to become NATO members. “It can’t be a long process,” she said, insisting that joining the two countries would “make us stronger.”

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