Madrid: Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto said that Turkey has agreed to support Finland and Sweden’s joint membership of NATO, on the first day of the alliance’s summit in the Spanish capital, Madrid.
Niinisto said the breakthrough on Tuesday came after the three countries signed a joint memorandum “to extend their full support against threats to each other’s security”. Ahead of the NATO summit, the leaders of Finland and Sweden had met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a bid to have him drop objections to them joining the military alliance.
The Nordic leaders voiced optimism earlier on Tuesday that the Turkish president might lift his veto on their bid to join the alliance.
After landing in Madrid, Erdogan held more than two hours of talks with Finnish President Niinisto, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
“We have made progress. That is definitely the case,” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said.
“We are prepared for something positive to happen today, but also for it to take more time,” she added. “We must be patient and continue discussions even after the summit.”
Ankara had objected to Sweden and Finland’s bid to join NATO based on what it considers to be the Nordic pair’s lax approach toward groups Turkey deems national security threats. Turkey could have prevented Finland and Sweden from joining NATO since all members of the military bloc must agree to taking on new members.
Other NATO allies, including France and Spain, had indirectly urged Turkey to yield on its block of the two potential new Nordic members.
Speaking at the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Germany, French President Emmanuel Macron had called for a message of “unity and of force” from NATO in Madrid.