Finland and Sweden: Turkey maintains its veto on NATO membership

Status: 05/18/2022 10:44 p.m.

The US government is hopeful that Finland and Sweden will soon be able to join NATO. But Turkey sticks to its no. Foreign Minister Cavusoglu again accused the two countries of supporting terrorist organizations.

For the time being, Turkey is sticking to its position of blocking Finland’s and Sweden’s accession process to NATO. After a meeting with Blinken, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Turkish press that he had clearly explained Turkey’s position on the military alliance’s northern expansion to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Basically, Cavusoglu described the discussions with his American colleague as “extremely positive”. Blinken said Turkey’s concerns were legitimate, Cavusoglu said.

Sweden and Finland formally applied for admission to the defense alliance shortly before the NATO Council meeting on Wednesday morning, but Turkey has so far blocked the process. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had already made it known several times that he did not want to accept the membership of Finland and Sweden.

Rejection due to alleged support for terrorism

Turkey has always justified its position with alleged support from both countries for the Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK and the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria. Turkey considers the YPG to be the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, which is considered a terrorist organization in Turkey, Europe and the United States. Turkey is taking action in northern Syria against the YPG – which is not listed as a terrorist organization in the United States and Europe.

In New York, Cavusoglu again accused Finland and Sweden of supporting terrorist organizations and separately accused Sweden of supplying arms to the YPG. Turkey’s security concerns must be taken into account, Cavusoglu stressed.

The “confident” United States

Shortly before Cavusoglu’s statements, the US government of President Joe Biden was still optimistic about the process of Finland and Sweden joining NATO. “We are confident that Finland and Sweden will eventually have an effective and efficient membership process that can address Turkey’s concerns,” Biden national security adviser Jake Sullivan said. “Finland and Sweden are working directly with Turkey to achieve this, but we are also talking to the Turks to try to facilitate the process.”

Sullivan said he and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to their respective Turkish counterparts on Wednesday – “and we are very optimistic about future developments.” Biden receives Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö at the White House on Thursday.

Baerbock: “Everyone knows their responsibility”

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock appealed to Ankara’s sense of responsibility. “I think right now everyone knows their responsibility in such a difficult situation,” the New York Greens politician succinctly answered a corresponding question, without explicitly naming Turkey.

Support from Croatia

Turkey can count on the support of Croatia in its opposition to the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO. “Turkey will negotiate a high price for its status in NATO,” President Zoran Milanovic said. Croatia should follow this example.

Socialist Milanovic wants the electoral law of neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina to be changed in favor of the Croats who live there before the Croatian parliament ratifies the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO. He is also at odds with conservative Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on domestic policy issues. However, Plenkovic’s ruling party has a narrow majority in parliament ahead of the Socialists and could therefore push through a vote on NATO enlargement.

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