French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan regarding his opposition to Sweden’s and Finland’s application for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). President Macron called on President Erdogan to “respect the sovereign decision of Finland and Sweden to join NATO”. The French president further hoped that a “solution will be found quickly to lift the Turkish veto.”
The Elysee Palace released a statement following the telephone conversation, “The President of the Republic stressed the importance of respecting the sovereign elections of these two countries, as a result of a democratic process and of intervening in response to the development of their security environment.”
Ankara warned on May 25 that it would not accept Sweden’s and Finland’s membership if it did not receive “concrete measures” from NATO regarding its security problems. Turkey triggered a crisis within NATO, of which it is a member, by opposing the organization’s expansion into these two countries. Sweden and Finland will not be able to join NATO unless all bloc members agree.
Erdogan had asked the Nordic nations not to send their delegations to Turkey
In addition, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has previously said that the two Nordic nations should not send delegations to Turkey to convince the country of its goals. Ankara said it would not support the applications, citing Sweden’s and Finland’s register of housing members of Kurdish militant groups, and the 2019 decision to impose arms export embargoes on Ankara as a result of Turkey’s military intervention in Syria.
On 17 May, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde signed an application for membership in NATO. Stockholm took a formal step towards joining the US-led military alliance, which effectively ended decades of military neutrality, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine causes a major change in European security and geopolitics. In addition, Finland stated its willingness to join the alliance of 30 nations on 15 May.
Erdogan’s threat to derail Sweden and Finland’s membership aspirations highlights a potential weakness that Putin has tried to exploit in the past: the difficult nature of the consensus-driven alliance, which allows an individual member to reject measures approved by the other 29. At the same time, NATO Secretary General Jens Jens Stoltenberg has stated that the two countries will be welcomed “with open arms”, but their bids must be approved by all 30 members of the alliance, and Turkey seems to be the most likely stumbling block.
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