NATO reaches agreement with Turkey to admit Sweden and Finland, Stoltenberg says

Stoltenberg has said NATO’s updated Strategic Concept is likely to list Russia as the “most significant and immediate threat” to security.

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WASHINGTON NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday the world’s most powerful military alliance has reached a deal to admit Sweden and Finland after allaying concerns from tenacious Turkey.

The three countries’ foreign ministers have signed a memorandum confirming that Turkey will support Sweden and Finland’s NATO bids at a summit this week in Madrid, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said in a statement.

“Our joint memorandum underlines the commitment of Finland, Sweden and Turkey to extend their full support against threats to each other’s security,” said the Finnish leader.

“As we become NATO allies, this commitment will be further strengthened,” he added.

The pressure to add Sweden and Finland to NATO comes as the Russian attack on Ukraine heightens fears for other countries in the region. Long wary of NATO expansion, Moscow has resisted the two nations’ plans to join the alliance.

Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would not approve NATO applications from either Sweden or Finland. He has cited their support for Kurdish organizations that Turkey views as security threats.

All 30 NATO members must approve a country’s bid for it to join the alliance.

Last week, Stoltenberg told reporters he was working to add Finland and Sweden to NATO “as soon as possible”. He said the addition of Sweden and Finland “will make them safer, NATO stronger and the Euro-Atlantic area safer”.

“We are now actively working on the next steps in the accession process of both Finland and Sweden. And we are addressing Turkey’s security concerns, including in the fight against terrorism,” Stoltenberg said during a discussion hosted by Politico on Wednesday.

US President Joe Biden makes remarks alongside Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, in the rose garden of the White House in Washington, US, May 19, 2022.

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Both Finland and Sweden already meet many of the requirements to be NATO members. Some of the requirements include having a functioning democratic political system, a willingness to provide economic transparency and the ability to make military contributions to NATO missions.

In May, both nations began the formal process of joining the NATO alliance.

After the countries submitted their bids, President Joe Biden, flanked by Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, said the two nations would “make NATO stronger”. He called their steps to join the pact a “victory for democracy.”

Biden pledged to work with Congress — which must ratify US approval of NATO bids — and the other 29 members to quickly get Sweden and Finland to join the group.

“There is no doubt that NATO is relevant, effective and needed now more than ever,” Biden said on May 19 after a trilateral meeting with leaders in the White House.

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