Turkey lifted on Tuesday its veto over Finland and Sweden’s bid to join NATO after the three nations agreed to protect each other’s security.
The breakthrough, ending a weeks-long drama that tested allied unity against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, came just before a NATO summit began in Madrid, averting an embarrassing impasse at the gathering of thirty leaders that aimed to show resolve against Russia.
Deal between Turkey and Nordic countries for NATO membership
In a joint memorandum with Turkey, the two Nordic countries pledged their “unwavering solidarity and co-operation in the fight against terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations”.
They also promised to abjure the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a radical Kurdish group that has fought decades of insurgency against Turkey, and the closely related Kurdish militia in Syria, the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
They agreed to lift their arms embargo against Turkey, clamp down on the financing of the PKK, “address” Turkey’s requests for the extradition and deportation of Kurdish activists and amend laws to facilitate the extradition of terrorism suspects.
In return, Turkey would support their application to join the alliance.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Turkey’s President confirmed the accord in separate statements after talks between the two with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.
Stoltenberg said NATO’s thirty leaders would now invite Finland, which shares a 1,300km (810-mile) border with Russia, and Sweden to join NATO and that they would become official “invitees.”
In addition to Finland and Sweden’s membership bids in the thirty-member military alliance, the three-day NATO summit in Madrid will also touch on the Ukraine-Russia war and NATO’s new strategic concept.
Erdogan to meet Biden, rules out meeting with Greek PM Mitsotakis
Erdogan is expected to meet Biden on Wednesday on the sidelines of the gathering focused on responding to the Kremlin’s invasion of its pro-Western neighbor.
The two leaders have had a chilly relationship since Biden’s election because of US concerns about human rights under Erdogan.
Erdogan ruled out the possibility of holding any talks with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who is also flying out to the meeting.
“A bilateral meeting with Mitsotakis is not possible,” Erdogan told reporters before leaving for the Spanish capital. “I have said so before, which means that you are not paying attention to what we are saying.”
“That door has closed until they get their act together and when they do, then we can clarify the roadmap and to what extent meetings can take place,” the Turkish President added about the possibility of reopening the channels of communication with Athens amid mounting tension between Greece and Turkey and increasingly aggressive rhetoric from Ankara.