Sweden and Finland have pushed ahead with their bids to join NATO despite opposition from Turkey.
Why is Turkey opposed to it?
Turkey insists it won’t let the previously nonaligned Nordic countries into the military alliance because of their alleged support for Kurdish militants. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had released a strongly worded objection to Sweden and Finland, to the dismay of the two applicants and other NATO members, complicating what was anticipated to be a swift expansion of the alliance after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
What does this mean for Sweden and Finland?
Joining the military alliance would be a significant shift by the two countries that have previously maintained military neutrality. The foreign ministers of both countries have signed formal application letters to be handed over jointly at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Turkey’s objections have, however, raised concerns over how quickly the application process could advance, as all 30 NATO countries are required to indicate acceptance of new members.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, has expressed optimism that the recent setback would be surmounted with constructive talks. “Turkey’s statements have changed very quickly and hardened in recent days. But I am sure that we will resolve the situation with constructive talks,” Niinisto said during a visit to Stockholm, Sweden’s capital. Niinisto said he spoke to Erdogan in early April “and it was crystal clear that he was supportive, and he said that the Finnish membership should be assessed favorably”.
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