NATO Summit: Stoltenberg Meets with the Leaders of Turkey, Sweden and Finland to Unlock Nordic Countries’ NATO Entry | International

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson at a press conference at the Atlantic Alliance headquarters in Brussels on Monday.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson at a press conference at the Atlantic Alliance headquarters in Brussels on Monday.KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets this Tuesday at the NATO summit in Madrid with the leaders of Sweden and Finland to discuss the entry of the two Nordic countries into the Alliance. At the meeting, the highest level since Ankara announced its reluctance to the entry of Stockholm and Helsinki in the organization, will also be the secretary general of the Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, in addition to Erdogan himself, the president of Finland, Sauli Niinistö , and the Prime Minister of Sweden, Magdalena Andersson. “I cannot make any promises, but I assure you that we are actively working to make progress because the requests from Finland and Sweden are historic, they will strengthen their security and NATO and it will be something that will contribute to stability in the Euro-Atlantic area,” Stoltenberg said on Monday. at a press conference in Brussels prior to the summit that begins today in the Spanish capital and will last until Thursday.

Finland and Sweden have applied to join NATO as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but the accession process has been complicated because Turkey, a member of the Alliance, accuses Helsinki and especially Stockholm of protecting terrorist groups, mainly to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and for the restrictions on arms sales that Stockholm and Helsinki imposed on Ankara in 2019.

The meeting on Tuesday, however, does not necessarily mean the proximity of an agreement, as the Turkish government underlined on Monday. Erdogan’s top foreign policy adviser, Ibrahim Kalin, told his country’s press that Tuesday’s meeting does not imply an imminent deal. “Participating in this summit does not mean that we will step back from our position. We are conducting a negotiation. It has many stages,” he expressed.

The Swedish Prime Minister held a meeting with Stoltenberg in Brussels on Monday. At the end of the meeting, she expressed her “hope” that there will be a rapprochement of positions before the start of the summit of the military alliance in Madrid. “My great hope is that this dialogue can be successfully concluded in the near future, ideally before the summit,” Andersson said. A breakthrough in these talks “would allow the access processes of Sweden and Finland to start immediately [a la OTAN] and such an outcome would be good news for Sweden and Finland,” added the Swedish Prime Minister.

The NATO secretary general also stated on Monday that the start of the Atlantic Alliance summit in Madrid is not a definitive deadline for the parties to reach an agreement. “The top [de Madrid] It was never a deadline. All NATO leaders are present, as well as the leaders of Sweden and Finland. So this gives us an opportunity that we can’t miss to see how much progress we can make,” he explained. “The only thing I can promise is that we are working as hard as possible to find a solution as soon as possible,” Stoltenberg added.

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In Helsinki, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said on Monday that the intense talks suggested “things look somewhat better than they did a week ago”: “But I will not make predictions about any kind of agreement,” he added. .

On May 18, the Swedish and Finnish foreign ministers formally delivered to Stoltenberg the requests for the two Nordic countries to join NATO, in a context marked by the Russian war in Ukraine. However, Turkey quickly put obstacles in the accession process by announcing its veto on the entry of the two states into NATO, whose entry must be approved unanimously by all member countries.

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