Turkey lifts veto on Finland, Sweden joining NATO
June 29, 2022 - NATO members have agreed to invite Sweden and Finland to join the military alliance, reinforcing its eastern front with Russia, after Turkey dropped its opposition to the Nordic countries’ bids.
The three countries signed a joint goodwill memorandum after four hours of talks on Tuesday (June 28, 2022) brokered by NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, ending a six-week veto by Ankara linked to terrorism concerns.
“Our foreign ministers signed a trilateral memorandum, which confirms that Turkey will at the Madrid summit this week support the invitation of Finland and Sweden to become members of NATO,” Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had vetoed membership bids, claiming that the Nordic countries had not been tough enough on groups affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), which took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984. The PKK is designated a terrorist organisation by the U.S. and EU.
Stoltenberg said the terms of the memorandum involved Sweden supporting Turkish extradition requests of suspected militants. Sweden and Finland also agreed to lift their restrictions on selling weapons to Turkey.
Erdoğan’s move means Helsinki and Stockholm can proceed with their application to join the 30-member alliance -- in the most significant shift in European security in decades. Their membership will reinforce the West’s response to Russia in the Baltic Sea, where Finnish and Swedish membership will give the NATO military superiority.