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Turkish opposition to NATO membership by Sweden and Finland has been lifted

In the midst of Europe’s worst security crisis in decades, sparked by the conflict in Ukraine, Turkey agreed Tuesday to suspend its objections to Sweden and Finland joining NATO.

Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg claimed that “we now have an agreement that sets the path for Finland and Sweden to join NATO” after urgent top-level negotiations with presidents of the three nations. He referred to it as “a historic choice.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s armed incursion into the Ukrainian territory has led Sweden and Finland to renounce their nonaligned status and seek protection from a more aggressive and unpredictable Russia, which shares a lengthy border with Finland. An attack on one member of NATO is considered an attack on all members, and as a result, the entire alliance is obliged to respond militarily.

The NATO summit in Spain

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Sweden Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto and Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde sign a memorandum in which Turkey agrees to Finland and Sweden’s membership in the defence alliance in Madrid, Spain.

As NATO is a consensus-based organisation, Turkish President Recep Tayyp Erdogan has vowed to block the Nordic duo, insisting they change their attitude on Kurdish rebel groups that Turkey considers terrorist.

Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö said the three presidents had signed a comprehensive agreement on Tuesday after weeks of negotiation and hours of talks.

When it comes to fighting the insurgents, Turkey claims to have “received what it wanted,” including “complete collaboration.”

A formal invitation will be sent on Wednesday by the leaders of the 30-nation alliance, according to Stoltenberg. He said he was “very convinced” that Finland and Sweden would join, and that could happen within months if they all ratify the decision.

Andersson noted that the agreement was a good step forward for Sweden “Finland and Sweden would benefit from this. In addition, it benefits NATO.”

Complete the membership process as soon as possible, she said.

“But this needs to be approved by 30 parliaments, and you never know,” Andersson told the Associated Press.

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and its Syrian branch were among the groups that Ankara deemed dangers to national security, and the Nordic nations’ agreement was heralded as a win by Ankara on Tuesday. On the issue of extraditing terrorist convicts, they also agreed “not to impose embargo restrictions in the sector of defence industry” on Turkey.

Following Turkey’s 2019 military invasion into northeast Syria, arms embargoes imposed by Finland and Sweden have been lifted at Turkey’s request.

At the Madrid Summit in 2022, Turkey decided to “support the invitation of Finland and Sweden to become members of NATO.”

Specifics of the agreement were vague. It’s “worrying” that Sweden isn’t disclosing what assurances it has given Erdogan, an independent Swedish legislator of Kurdish descent on whose support the government requires for a majority in Parliament.

Suggestions were brushed aside by Andersson. It was too much for Sweden and Finland to give up.

When asked if the deal will be seen as a compromise by the Swedish public on topics like the extradition of Kurdish militants who are considered terrorists by Ankara, Andersson stated “they will understand that this is important for the security of Sweden.”

A “crucial step” was taken by the three countries, according to US President Joe Biden.

A senior administration official claimed the United States did not provide any concessions to Turkey in order to persuade it to accept a deal. The person stated that the US played a critical role in helping bring the two parties closer together, and Biden spoke with Erdogan on Tuesday morning at the request of Sweden and Finland to help promote the negotiations.

At the start of a major summit that would shape the trajectory of the alliance for the coming years, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine dominated discussions. King Felipe VI of Spain hosted a banquet for world leaders in the Royal Palace of Madrid, built in the late 18th century, to officially start off the summit.

Wednesday and Thursday’s meeting agendas will focus primarily on bolstering Russia’s defences and helping Ukraine.

The Russian invasion of Europe on February 24 rattled European security, bringing shelling of towns and brutal ground combat back to Europe. Once again, NATO has been forced to confront a hostile Russia that had begun to shift its attention to terrorism and other non-state concerns.

NATO is “as united and energised as I think we have ever been,” Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview.

As a sobering reminder of the war’s tragedies, Russian missiles struck a Kremenchuk shopping mall on Monday. Some interpreted the timing as a message from Moscow, coming as it did immediately before the G-7 summit and right before the NATO summit in Germany.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who will meet NATO leaders via video on Wednesday, referred to the mall attack as a “terrorist” incident.

In an effort to persuade the coalition to help Ukraine with “whatever it takes” in order to end the conflict, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko flew to Madrid.

“You need to wake up. NOW is the time to act. You’ll be the next victim; this will arrive at your doorstep in an instant “In an interview with reporters on-site at the summit, Klitschko revealed as much.

As a result of a “more hazardous and unpredictable world,” Stoltenberg said, the meeting will lay out a roadmap for the alliance. “We have to invest more in our defence,” Stoltenberg said. The NATO defence spending target of 2% of GDP is only met by nine countries out of NATO’s 30 members. The meeting is being held in Spain, which spends about half that amount.

NATO allies will agree at the summit to raise the alliance’s fast reaction force nearly eightfold, from 40,000 to 300,000 troops, said Stoltenberg on Monday. The troops will be based in their home nations, but dedicated to specific countries on NATO’s eastern flank, where the alliance plans to build up stocks of equipment and ammunition.

Under the surface, NATO members are divided over how the conflict will be resolved and what sacrifices Ukraine should make to stop the conflict.

NATO’s new Strategic Concept — its once-in-a-decade set of priorities and goals — also has divisions on how tough it should be on China. There was no mention of China at all in the final agreement, which was published in 2010.

As China’s economic and military might grows, so does the Indo-Pacific region’s importance and influence. The new NATO concept is intended to lay out NATO’s stance to these concerns, as well as others like cybersecurity and climate change. Japan, Australia, South Korea and New Zealand’s leaders are attending the summit as guests for the first time.

Some European nations are concerned about the aggressive U.S. stance on Beijing and do not want China to be characterised as an adversary.

According to NATO’s Strategic Concept, Russia will be the organization’s top threat.

An official satellite map of Madrid, the White House and Pentagon as well as the embassy buildings in London and Paris was released by Russia’s Roscosmos ahead of this week’s G20 summit in order to help attendees plan their travel.

To be prepared “just in case,” the outlet reported NATO was planning to declare Russia an enemy at the conference.

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