Turkey clears path for NATO expansion; lifts veto on entry of Finland, Sweden

Turkey NATO Finland Sweden

Madrid: Following an agreement by the three countries to defend one another’s security, NATO partner Turkey removed its veto on the application of Finland and Sweden to join the Western alliance on Tuesday. This put an end to a drama that lasted weeks and tried the unity of the alliance in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The agreement was reached following four hours of negotiations shortly before the start of the NATO summit in Madrid. It prevented an embarrassing deadlock at the gathering of 30 leaders that wanted to demonstrate resolve against Russia, which the US-led alliance now views as a direct security threat rather than a potential enemy.

As the two long-neutral Nordic nations seek NATO protection, it means Finland and Sweden can move forward with their applications to join the nuclear-armed alliance, solidifying what is expected to be the largest shift in European security in decades.

“Our foreign ministers signed a trilateral memorandum which confirms that Turkey will … support the invitation of Finland and Sweden to become members of NATO,” Finnish President Niinisto said in a statement.

“The steps for Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO will be agreed on in the next two days,” Niinisto added.

Following discussions between the NATO head, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, and Niinisto, the agreement was confirmed by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and the Turkish presidency in separate announcements.

Read: NATO’s Nordic expansion: Strategic impact? | By Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

“Key memorandum just reached between Sweden, Finland and Türkyie. Paves way for Swedish accession to NATO,” Andersson said in a Twitter post.

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