Blinken presses Turkiye over NATO accession for Sweden, Finland
Blinken reiterated that the US strongly supported Finland and Sweden's entry into NATO 'as quickly as possible'
By News Desk - February 20 2023

(Photo credit: Carlos Barria/Reuters)

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said that Washington strongly supports Sweden and Finland’s rapid accession to NATO, given the progress they have already made, although his Turkish counterpart stressed the need for more concrete steps, Al-Mayadeen reported on 20 February.

Speaking at a joint press conference after meeting Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, Blinken said: “The United States greatly values Turkiye’s contributions as a longstanding and active member of the NATO alliance, and we will continue to work together to strengthen and grow our alliance, including through the accession of Sweden and Finland, which will help provide even stronger and more capable assets to the alliance.”

“Finland and Sweden have already taken concrete steps to fulfill the commitments that they met under the trilateral memorandum of agreement that they signed,” he added.

However, Ankara demands that Stockholm ends its open arms policy with Kurdish armed groups, saying, “there has been progress, but it is not enough.”

“Sweden made a law change, but we see that every kind of activity, including terrorism financing, recruitment, and propaganda, continues in Sweden… If they take steps that convince our parliament and people, there could be a development in this direction,” Turkish top diplomat Cavusoglu said.

During the press conference, Blinken stated that Washington was “strongly” in favor of delivering F-16 jets to Turkiye.

“The Biden administration strongly supports the package to both upgrade the existing F-16s and to provide new ones,” the US top diplomat said at the conference.

Meanwhile, Cavusoglu noted, “it would not be right to make Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership a condition for the F-16s. They are two different issues.”

On 2 February, a quarter of Washington’s senate sent letters to US President Joe Biden urging him to halt the $20 billion arms sale to Turkiye, which includes F-16 fighter jets and upgrades to its naval equipment, over Ankara’s objections to Sweden and Finland joining NATO.

This comes a few weeks after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan informed Sweden that it should not expect Ankara’s support in its bid to join the US-led alliance following the burning of the Quran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.

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