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Finland and Sweden, the two Nordic nations, will end their decades of neutrality and are ready to join NATO. Turkey, which had previously raised objections to their membership bid and blocked Finland and Sweden from joining the Alliance, signed a trilateral memorandum of understanding with Sweden and Finland on Tuesday during of the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain.

It should be noted that Russia had warned against Finland and Sweden joining NATO as it would expand and bring the defensive military alliance “on its doorstep”. Moscow Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called the decision a “mistake” which would have “considerable consequences”.

Image credit: Associated Press

Here is what happened

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said in previous meetings with the Finnish and Swedish delegations that the talks with two Nordic states had not been “at the expected level” and were alleviating Turkey’s security concerns. “As long as Tayyip Erdogan is the head of the Republic of Turkey, we cannot say ‘yes’ to countries that support terrorism that join NATO,” he told reporters on the plane after a visit to Turkey. Azerbaijan according to Hurriyet newspaper.

Turkey’s concerns

Ankara had accused Sweden and Finland of harboring Kurdish groups linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and others it deems terrorists, and accuses of obstructing its military operations in Syria. Both countries had halted their arms exports to Ankara in 2019. “They are neither honest nor sincere. We cannot repeat the mistake made in the past about countries hosting and nurturing such terrorists within the NATO, which is a security organization,” Erdogan said. . Turkey, which hosts NATO’s second-largest army, had said its demands had to be met.

Turkey’s demands in exchange for Sweden, approval of Finland’s NATO candidacy

Ankara, which joined NATO three years after its creation in 1949, opposed Sweden and Finland’s NATO bid due to resentment over Nordic countries’ support for Kurdish PKK terrorist organizations /YPG/PYD. Erdogan previously claimed that while Turkey fully supports NATO’s open-door policy based on Article 10 of the Alliance’s founding document, the two countries have ignored Turkey’s requests to extradite. more than 33 terrorists wanted in Ankara for the July 2016 coup.

The PKK, which seeks an independent state in Turkey, had attempted to overthrow Erdogan’s ruling government. President Tayyip Erdogan had claimed that NATO should not expect Turkey to approve the membership application of Sweden and Finland, a Baltic country, without first extraditing the “terrorists”. ” of the PKK.

The PKK/YPG/PYD terrorist organizations have their headquarters in Damascus and are also supported by the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, as well as by Iran, Iraq and Libya. Erdogan also recently ridiculed the United States for lifting sanctions against areas of Syria that are a stronghold of the nationalist YPG/PKK terror group. Washington calls these “militias” “allies” in the fight against ISIS/Daesh in Syria.

Erdogan has warned NATO chief Stoltenberg that Sweden and Finland must demonstrate that they do not support terrorists and are willing to cooperate with the concerns of Alliance members. Ankara demanded that the sanctions against Turkey be lifted.

NATO’s response

NATO chief Stoltenberg, for his part, stressed that Turkey, which he described as a key NATO ally, must meet its security obligations because no other country has been confronted so much. to the problem of terrorism than Ankara. Notably, Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO in May.

The NATO chief stressed that once Turkey’s security guarantees are met, all 30 NATO member countries must vote in favor of joining. At the end of May, Turkey called meetings in Ankara with the Swedish and Finnish delegations to discuss their NATO candidacies. In June, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Stoltenberg appealed to Ankara for the addition of Sweden and Finland to NATO to strengthen the alliance.

Turkey signs ‘trilateral memorandum of understanding’ with Sweden and Finland at NATO summit in Madrid

“I am happy to announce that we now have an agreement which paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO. Turkey, Finland and Sweden have signed a memorandum which addresses the concerns of Turkey, particularly with regard to arms exports and the fight against terrorism,” Stoltenberg announced at the NATO summit in Madrid. The NATO chief said after the signing of the trilateral memorandum that he was “confident” that Sweden and Finland joining NATO “is something that will happen”.

“Welcoming Finland and Sweden to the alliance will make them more secure, NATO stronger and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure. This is vital as we face the greatest security crisis in decades.” , said the NATO chief.