WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday he was confident Turkey’s objections to Finland and Sweden joining NATO could be overcome quickly, perhaps in time for a summit of alliance leaders at the end of next month.
At a Washington press conference with Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, Blinken said the United States had no reason to believe Turkey’s concerns could not be addressed. His comments came after Turkey’s top diplomat said Finland and Sweden would have to take “concrete steps” before Ankara could back their membership.
“The United States fully supports Finland and Sweden joining the alliance and I remain confident that both will soon become members of NATO,” Blinken said. “We look forward to being able to call Finland and Sweden our allies.”
Haavisto said his country and Sweden had had “good negotiations” with the Turks in recent days over their concerns and said those talks would continue with a view to resolving them before the NATO summit in Madrid in late June.
“We have agreed to continue these talks,” Haavisto said. “We believe that these issues raised by Turkey can be resolved. We hope that some results can be achieved before the NATO summit.
Sweden and Finland submitted their written applications to join NATO last week. The move represents one of the biggest geopolitical ramifications of Russia’s war in Ukraine and could rewrite Europe’s security map.
The countries’ offers to join require the support of the current 30 NATO countries, but Turkey, which commands the alliance’s second-largest army, opposes it. He cited alleged support for Kurdish militants Turkey considers terrorists and restrictions on arms sales to Turkey.
Earlier on Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the Finnish and Swedish negotiating delegations received documents detailing Turkey’s concerns, such as information on terrorist groups, during their visit to Turkey this week. He said Ankara was waiting for specific answers.
Cavusoglu said “an approach like ‘we will convince Turkey in time anyway, we are friends and allies’ would not be correct”. He insisted that “these countries must take concrete measures”.
He added that “we understand Finland’s and Sweden’s security concerns but…everyone must also understand Turkey’s legitimate security concerns.”
Turkey this week listed five “concrete assurances” it demanded from Sweden, including what it called an “end of political support for terrorism”, an “elimination of the source of funding for terrorism” and the “termination of arms support” banned the PKK and a Syrian Kurdish militia affiliated with it.
The demands also called for the lifting of arms sanctions against Turkey and for global cooperation against terrorism.
Cavusoglu’s comments came during a press conference with visiting foreign ministers from NATO allies Poland and Romania, who both expressed strong support for the candidacies of Finland and Russia. Sweden.
“There is no doubt that we need Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO membership to strengthen it,” Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said.
Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu agreed, saying their membership would “consolidate collective defense and our security.”
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