Finland and Sweden’s journey towards NATO membership has surmounted its biggest obstacle as Turkey withdraws it’s opposition to the move.
Rather, it (Turkey) will support inviting Finland and Sweden into NATO at the bloc’s upcoming summit in Spain, according to an announcement by the Finnish President Sauli Niinisto on Tuesday.
He made the announcement after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.
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The three countries signed a memorandum of understanding at the meeting, organized with the support of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
“The concrete steps for our accession to NATO will be agreed among NATO allies over the next two days, but that decision is now imminent,”said Niinisto. “I am pleased that this stage on Finland’s journey towards NATO membership has been completed.”
Turkey had opposed Finland and Sweden joining NATO over their relationship with separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front (DHKP/C) which Turkey regards as Terrorist.
According to statement from the Turkish side after the meeting, Finland and Sweden pledged to “condemn terrorism in all its forms” and end their support for organizations Ankara has designated as terrorist – including the Kurdish groups PKK and YPG, as well as the movement led by the exiled cleric Fetullah Gulen, which the Turkish government refers to as FETO.
“Turkey got what it wanted,” Erdogan said in a statement after the deal was announced.
Speaking at a press conference after the meeting, Stoltenberg said that Finland and Sweden will become observers in NATO at the upcoming summit. He added that the memorandum includes provisions on fighting terrorism and arms exports, including adopting stricter national legislation.
Finland and Sweden simultaneously announced that they will be joining NATO in May 2022, citing security concerns following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur