Brussels: Representatives of Sweden, Finland and Turkey held talks in Brussels to discuss progress on fulfilling Turkey’s conditions for agreeing to the Nordic countries’ accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the military bloc said in a statement.
Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO in 2022 but faced objections from NATO-member Turkey on the grounds that the two countries harbour members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), considered a terrorist group by Ankara.
The accession needs a unanimous agreement by all members of NATO.
According to NATO’s statement, “the participants welcomed the progress that had been made” on a three-way deal called the Trilateral Memorandum, struck last year in Madrid, aimed at satisfying Turkey’s complaints, Xinhua news agency reported.
The participants also agreed that rapid ratifications for both Finland and Sweden would be in NATO’s interest, and that their membership would strengthen the bloc, the statement said.
“Finland and Sweden have taken unprecedented steps to address legitimate Turkish security concerns. It is now time for all allies to conclude the ratification process and welcome Finland and Sweden as full members of the alliance ahead of the upcoming NATO Summit in Vilnius,” said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
As agreed in the Memorandum, there won’t be any arms export restrictions between the parties; they need to significantly enhance counter-terrorism cooperation; and Sweden is now in the process of tightening anti-terrorism legislation, including against the PKK.
The three countries on Thursday agreed to meet again in the same format ahead of the NATO summit in July.