US and European officials meet at the summit for Finland and Sweden to join NATO
By Kylie Atwood, CNN
European and American officials do not expect that Turkey’s concerns for Finland and Sweden join NATO will be relieved before Alliance alliance summit this week, US and European officials told CNN.
Nevertheless, some officials believe that Turkey can see the summit as a place to finally reach agreements that can drive the process forward.
“My best prognosis based on what I have seen is that they will drive this to the thread in Madrid. They also always prefer if they are going to make concessions to do it at the leadership level, they think it improves that status,” said one European official when discussing the issue. “It is Turkey’s standard procedure not to grant concessions until the last possible moment. And the last possible moment is usually defined as a bilateral meeting with the President of the United States, followed by a leadership meeting. “
But Turkish officials have said they do not see a “limited timetable” for the talks, and some Americans and Europeans are less convinced that Turkey is ready to reach an agreement in Spain.
White House officials have been cautious about whether US President Joe Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will meet in Spain. However, a person familiar with the matter said that they expected the men to speak at some point about the accession process, even though it may not have been raised to a formal bilateral meeting.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters at the G7 summit in Germany that the goal ahead of the Madrid summit was to “create as much positive momentum as we can behind Finland’s and Sweden’s candidacies”, although he warned: “I do not sit here today and suggests that all issues will be resolved by Madrid. “
He said no formal bilateral meeting was planned between Biden and Erdoğan, but that they “may well have the opportunity to see each other.”
“Let’s see how the next 24 hours develop. There is a plethora of diplomatic activity going on today,” he said.
Biden, he said, followed the development “very closely.”
“His team works with the Finns, Swedes and Turks, and I am on the phone daily with my counterparts,” he said. “So, let’s see how it goes.”
U.S. officials have been cautious about involving Biden directly in the discussions, aware that having the United States so closely involved could heighten efforts and escalate Erdoğan’s demands – including the likely extradition request for a US-based priest Erdoğan accusing him of orchestrating a coup attempt. 2016.
Nevertheless, US officials are still convinced of the applications from Finland and Sweden will eventually be successful.
Erdoğan has accused the two countries of harboring members of the separatist militant group The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, also known as the PKK, which Turkey sees as a terrorist organization. Turkey also wants the countries to get rid of an embargo on arms sales to Turkey that was imposed after Turkey’s military intervention in northern Syria in 2019.
As the talks have been going on for over a month, US and European officials are still frustrated with how Turkey has pulled out what they initially hoped would be a quick entry into the defensive alliance of the two countries. Some officials are now worried that Turkey may want more in the form of concessions than it publicly says.
“There is concern about the delay and what more Turkey can start pushing for when it recognizes the influence it has right now,” said another European official.
A lack of progress on the two countries that join late would put a damper on the high-profile gathering where leaders are looking for ways to strengthen the defensive military alliance. In recent weeks, officials had expressed a desire to have the challenge in the rearview mirror before the meeting in Spain.
At one point, officials said privately that they hoped the Madrid summit would serve as a welcoming party for the alliance’s two newest members. It would have sent a clear message to Russia about NATO’s growing capabilities.
“My intention is to have this in place before the NATO summit,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg about the process of getting Finland and Sweden to join NATO, as he stood next to Foreign Minister Antony Blinken earlier this month. “At the same time, I know that in order to make progress, we need 30 allies to come to an agreement.”
Last week, Turkey met with officials from both countries and NATO, but there was no breakthrough after the meeting.
And meanwhile, with the ongoing war in Ukraine, Turkey has also been involved in some direct talks with Russia – which is fiercely opposed to NATO expansion – about the need to get Ukrainian grain out of the country.
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CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.