Türkiye agreed on June 28 to lift its opposition to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, a breakthrough in an impasse clouding a leaders’ summit in Madrid amid Europe’s worst security crisis in decades triggered by the war in Ukraine.
Türkiye “got what it wanted” from Sweden and Finland before agreeing to back their drives to join the NATO defense alliance, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s office said.
“Türkiye has made significant gains in the fight against terrorist organisations,” said the Turkish statement.
Türkiye said the Nordic nations had agreed to crack down on groups that Ankara deems national security threats, including the PKK terror organization, and its Syrian extension YPG.
It said they also agreed “not to impose embargo restrictions in the field of defense industry” on Turkey and to take “concrete steps on the extradition of terrorist criminals.”
Turkey has demanded that Finland and Sweden extradite wanted individuals and lift arms restrictions imposed after Turkey’s 2019 military incursion into northeast Syria.
Turkey, in turn, agreed “to support at the 2022 Madrid Summit the invitation of Finland and Sweden to become members of NATO.”
After urgent top-level talks, alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said “we now have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO.”
Stoltenberg said leaders of the 30-nation alliance will issue a formal invitation to the two countries to join on Wednesday.
The decision has to be ratified by all individual nations, but he said he was “absolutely confident” Finland and Sweden would become members, something that could happen within months.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted Sweden and Finland to abandon their long-held nonaligned status and apply to join NATO. But Erdoğan had blocked the move, insisting the Nordic pair change their stance on PKK terror organization.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said the three countries’ leaders signed a joint agreement after talks on Tuesday.
The agreement comes at the opening of a crucial summit dominated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. U.S. President Joe Biden and other NATO leaders arrived in Madrid for a summit that will set the course of the alliance for the coming years.
The summit was kicking off with a leaders’ dinner hosted by Spain’s King Felipe VI at the 18th-century Royal Palace of Madrid.
Biden congratulated the three nations on taking a “crucial step.”
Moscow’s invasion on Feb. 24 shattered European security and brought shelling of cities and bloody ground battles back to the continent. NATO, which had begun to turn its focus to terrorism and other non-state threats, has had to confront an adversarial Russia once again.
“Ukraine now faces a brutality which we haven’t seen in Europe since the Second World War,” Stoltenberg said.
Diplomats and leaders from Türkiye, Sweden and Finland earlier held a flurry of talks in an attempt to break the impasse over Türkiye ’s opposition to expansion. The three countries’ leaders met for more than two hours alongside Stoltenberg on Tuesday before the agreement was announced.
Erdoğan previously recalled that these two Nordic states should meet the demands tabled by Türkiye on the fight against terror in order to move forward with their accession process.
“We don’t want just word, we want results. We are tired of this. For now, they are just talking. But on the day we talk, they run an interview with the head of the terror organization on the Swedish state TV,” he said.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said the agreement was “good for Finland and Sweden. And it’s good for NATO.”
She said completing the process of membership should be done “the sooner the better.”
“But there are 30 parliaments that need to approve this and you never know,” Andersson told the Associated Press.
Hurriyet Daily News