NATO Expanding: Turkey Removes Opposition To New Members

By Mark Gruber | Wednesday, 29 June 2022 23:45
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Turkey will stop its opposition to Sweden and Finland's access to the NATO alliance, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto announced on Tuesday following a discussion between leaders.

The three countries’ foreign ministers signed a trilateral memorandum that established Turkey will back their endeavor to the alliance this week during NATO’s Madrid Summit. Earlier on Tuesday, Niinisto, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Prime Minister of Sweden Magdalena Andersson met together in a conversation that was facilitated by Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

The two long-standing neutral Nordic countries applied to join the North Atlantic alliance on May 18, which was right around the time Russia's invasion of Ukraine reached the three-month marker. Turkish officials accused both countries of backing terrorists because they have declined to oust Turkish nationals that Ankara claims have loyalty to the PKK, an ethnic Kurdish militant group.

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"Our joint memorandum underscores the commitment of Finland, Sweden and Türkiye to extend their full support against threats to each other’s security. Us becoming NATO Allies will further strengthen this commitment," Niinisto stated.

"Turkey raised its concerns over the threat of terrorism," Niinisto said. "Finland has constantly taken these concerns seriously. Finland condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. As a NATO member, Finland will commit fully to the counterterrorism documents and policies of NATO."

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"As we enhance our cooperation on counterterrorism, arms exports and extraditions, Finland naturally continues to operate according to its national legislation," Niinisto added.

"I am delighted to conclude this stage on Finland’s road to NATO membership. I now look forward to fruitful conversations on Finland’s role in NATO with our future Allies here in Madrid."

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NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg said, “I strongly welcome the signing of this trilateral memorandum, and I strongly welcome the constructive approach all three countries have shown during the negotiations. Finnish and Swedish membership of NATO is good for Finland and Sweden, it is good for NATO, and it is good for European security.”

Finland's ambassador to the U.S., Mikko Hautala, said a day earlier that he didn't believe the countries' entrance into the alliance would incur a military retaliation from Russia.

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"I don't expect that they would react militarily," the ambassador said. "Obviously, we might see some, some sort of informational warfare. I don't exclude any cyber activities. But frankly, I don't see Russia seeing these as a kind of far step that would escalate the conflict and they would — they would kind of have to react in a really heavy manner."

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