Politics, Europe

NATO aims to make progress on Finland, Sweden's membership bids

We need to take into account concerns of our allies, in this case Türkiye, NATO chief Stoltenberg says

Merve Aydogan   | 27.06.2022
NATO aims to make progress on Finland, Sweden's membership bids

ANKARA

The NATO chief on Monday said they aim to "make progress" on Finland and Sweden's membership bids ahead of the Madrid summit.

"We also aim to make progress on Finland and Sweden's historic applications for NATO membership, while ensuring the security concerns of all allies are addressed. I spoke with (Turkish) President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan on Saturday, and I will meet with the (Swedish) Prime Minister (Magdalena) Andersson later today," Jens Stoltenberg told a pre-summit press conference in Brussels.

Stoltenberg said NATO needs "to take into account the concerns expressed by allies, in this case by Türkiye. And that's the reason also why we have intensified the dialogue with our ally and with Finland, Sweden over the last weeks."

Finnish and Swedish leaders will meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Madrid on Tuesday, the NATO secretary-general said. The four-way meeting, which will also include Stoltenberg, will be preceded by "another meeting of senior officials from all three countries" at the NATO headquarters on Monday.

"Our NATO summit in Madrid will be transformative with many important decisions, including on the new strategic concept for a new security reality," he said.

Stoltenberg said NATO "will transform the NATO Response Force and increase the number of our high readiness forces to well over 300,000."

NATO leaders are set to meet in Madrid to discuss what could be its largest military deployment since the end of the Cold War.

The summit will run from Tuesday to Thursday, with talks expected to center on NATO's response to the war in Ukraine, and the Finnish and Swedish petitions to join the 30-member military alliance.

Sweden, along with Finland, formally applied to join NATO last month, a decision spurred by Russia's war on Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24.

But Türkiye, a longstanding member of the alliance, has voiced objections to the membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting the terrorist groups.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the US and EU –​​​​​​​ has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people.

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