Photo Credit: Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg demanded on 3 November that Turkey unblock the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO.
Stoltenberg asked Turkey to ratify the entry protocol of both Scandinavian countries, after defending that they are fulfilling agreements with Ankara on anti-terrorism, and are committed to the long-term security of the country, according to Al-Monitor news.
“Sweden and Finland are fulfilling their commitments and are clearly committed in the long term to Turkey’s security, so it is time to welcome both as full members,” the former Norwegian prime minister assured at a joined press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
“It is time to make them full members of the Alliance,” the NATO leader demanded, expressing his desire for this to happen “in the near future,” once the Turkish Parliament gives its approval.
Meanwhile, Cavusoglu acknowledged that Sweden and Finland are taking steps in the right direction, including legislative changes and the lifting of the embargo on arms sales to Ankara, but insisted that there are still measures to be put in place.
“Not all elements of the memorandum are being implemented, there are positive steps and we don’t want to damage the NATO enlargement process, but we want to see these countries take concrete steps against terrorism,” he said.
On 29 October, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and her Swedish counterpart Ulf Kristersson reaffirmed their commitment to joining NATO “hand in hand,” presenting a united front to Turkey which has raised questions about both their applications.
“I want to emphasize that Finland and Sweden are preparing to join NATO together. I think this is very important for the whole security environment in Northern Europe,” Marin said at a joint press conference.
According to the Finnish leader, the entry of both Nordic countries would strengthen the US-led militaristic alliance as a whole and their entry should take place “simultaneously,” as has been the case so far with the entire accession process.
On the other hand, the spokesman for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Omer Celik, said late on 31 October that his country is “not satisfied” with the promises made by Sweden to crack down on Kurdish groups labeled as terrorists by Ankara.
Briefing reporters following a meeting of the AKP executive committee, Celik said Sweden “makes very beautiful, elegant promises at the very highest level … but [they are] not enough until they are implemented.”