The United States puts pressure on Turkey as Finland and Sweden hope for NATO breakthrough Mighty 790 KFGO
Anne Kauranen and Humeyra Pamuk
HELSINKI / MADRID (Reuters) – NATO hopes Finland and Sweden on Tuesday expressed optimism that Turkey could lift its veto over its stalled efforts to join a military alliance at a summit in Madrid where US President Joe Biden will meet with his Turkish counterpart.
The White House confirmed that Biden will meet with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during the summit, which begins later on Tuesday and lasts until Thursday, and two NATO diplomats said they expect Washington to work to break the deadlock.
Turkey’s unexpected protests over the two Nordic countries’ membership aspirations, which, if successful, would be the biggest change in European security in decades, threaten to overshadow the summit for unity during Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“The general view is that the talks went somewhat better, which means that understanding has increased slightly on both sides,” President Sauli Niinisto told reporters in Helsinki, referring to the talks between the diplomats.
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde went further, telling Svenska Dagbladet (SvD): “We are prepared for the possibility that something positive may happen today, but it may also take longer.”
Erdogan will meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Niinistö at around 1400 GMT in Madrid.
“We hope to make progress,” Stoltenberg said.
Ankara’s main demands are that the Nordic countries stop supporting Kurdish militant groups on their territory and lift the ban on the sale of some weapons to Turkey.
These conditions are now the subject of intense diplomacy as NATO allies try to seal accession in record time to intensify their response to Russia, especially in the Baltic Sea, where Finnish and Swedish membership would give the alliances military superiority.
In the wider Nordic countries, Norway, Denmark and the three Baltic countries are already members of NATO. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, which Moscow says is a “special operation,” helped overthrow decades of opposition to NATO membership in Sweden.
NO MORE ‘BALL TRANSFER’
Before leaving for Madrid, Erdogan held his stance firmly in Ankara, saying Turkey wanted to act, not words, to address its concerns, adding that he would also encourage Biden to buy an F-16 fighter jet.
“We want results. We’re tired of feeding the ball in midfield. At the moment, they’re producing words,” Erdogan said at the airport.
Erdogan said he spoke with Biden Tuesday morning ahead of the planned Madrid summit and explained Turkey’s position to the allies at the summit and bilateral meetings.
He said he was discussing with Biden the acquisition of Ankara’s S-400 air defense systems from Russia – which led to US sanctions – and a request to buy 40 F-16 jets and modernization kits from Washington, among other bilateral issues. .
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said NATO needed to focus more on “fighting terrorism in all its forms,” which “also applies to candidate countries.”
Other allies, including France and Spain, implicitly called on Turkey to surrender. French President Emmanuel Macron spoke at a Group of Seven summit in Germany and demanded a message from NATO in Madrid about “unity and strength.”
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said alongside Stoltenberg that there is no alternative but to rent to Finland, which has 1,300 kilometers of Russian border, and Sweden.
“We are confident that if not now, then later, but eventually they will join the Atlantic Alliance,” Sanchez told reporters.
(Additional reporting: Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara and Ali Kucukgocmen in Istanbul, Andrea Shalal and John Irish Schloss in Elmau, Germany, Simon Johnson in Stockholm, Belen Carreno in Madrid, by Robin Emmott, edited by Tomasz Janowski)