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Tuesday, December 06, 2022

US: Turkey’s NATO issues with Sweden, Finland to be resolved

WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday that he is confident Turkey’s objections to Finland and Sweden joining NATO can be addressed swiftly, possibly by the end of next month by coalition leaders. for the summit.

At a news conference in Washington with Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Havisto, Blinken said the US has no reason to believe that Turkey’s concerns cannot be addressed. His remarks came after Turkey’s top diplomat said Finland and Sweden would have to take “concrete steps” before Ankara backed their membership.

“The United States fully supports Finland and Sweden joining the alliance and I am confident that both will soon be members of NATO,” Blinken said. “We look forward to being able to call Finland and Sweden our allies.”

Havisto said his country and Sweden had had “good talks” with the Turks over their concerns in recent days and said discussions would continue towards resolving them ahead of the NATO summit in Madrid in late June.

“We agreed to continue those talks,” Havisto said. “We think that these problems can be solved which Turkey is raising. We hope that some results can be achieved before the NATO summit.

Sweden and Finland submitted their written applications to join NATO last week. The move represents one of the biggest geopolitical implications of Russia’s war in Ukraine and could rewrite Europe’s security map.

The countries’ membership bids require the support of all 30 current NATO countries, but Turkey, which commands the second largest army in the coalition, is objecting to them. It cited alleged support for Kurdish militants whom Turkey considers terrorists and a ban on arms sales to Turkey.

Earlier on Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Kavusoglu said that Finnish and Swedish negotiating delegations were given documents detailing Turkey’s concerns, such as information on terrorist groups, during a visit to Turkey this week. He added that Ankara is waiting for specific answers.

Cavusoglu said, “We will convince Turkey in time anyway, we are friends and allies’ approach will not be correct.” He stressed that “these countries need to take concrete steps.”

He added that “we understand the security concerns of Finland and Sweden but … everyone also needs to understand Turkey’s legitimate security concerns.”

Turkey this week listed five “concrete assurances” it was seeking from Sweden, which it said would call for an “end of political support for terrorism”, “elimination of the source of terrorism financing” and “an end to arms support”. termination” is included. The banned PKK and a Syrian Kurdish militia group affiliated with it.

The demands also called for the lifting of the arms embargo against Turkey and global cooperation against terrorism.

Cavusoglu’s remarks came at a news conference with the foreign ministers of NATO allies Poland and Romania, both of whom expressed strong support for Finland and Sweden’s bids.

“There is no doubt that we need Sweden and Finland to join forces to strengthen the NATO alliance,” Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said.

Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Orescu agreed, saying that his membership would “strengthen our collective defense and our security.”

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