Why did Turkey lift its veto on Finland and Sweden joining NATO? | NATO News

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Ankara signed a trilateral memorandum of understanding after securing concessions on demands it presented in May.

Turkey has lifted its veto on Finland and Sweden joining NATO, ending a week-long dispute that has tested the alliance’s unity against the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

Tuesday’s breakthrough came after four hours of talks just before the start of a NATO summit in Madrid, and allows the gathering of 30 leaders in the Spanish capital to show a united front against Moscow and begin the process inclusion of Finland and Sweden in the alliance. sincerely.

The announcement of a deal cements the biggest change in European security in decades, as the Nordic countries abandon their decades-old neutrality to enter the military alliance.

Here’s a look at why Turkey initially opposed Finland and Sweden’s NATO candidacy, and why it now supports their membership:

Why did Turkey initially oppose the candidacy of Finland and Sweden?

  • Turkey surprised its NATO allies when it initially opposed Finland and Sweden’s bid to join the alliance.
  • Ankara demanded that the Nordic countries stop supporting Kurdish armed groups, such as the PKK, and lift their bans on selling certain weapons to Turkey.
  • Turkey has raised concerns that Sweden is harboring PKK members, which Stockholm has denied.
  • NATO operates by consensus, which means Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could have blocked Finland and Sweden from joining the 30-nation alliance if his demands were not met, which he had threatened to do.

What is the PKK?

  • The PKK, a designated “terrorist” group in Turkey, the European Union and the United States, took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984.
  • Tens of thousands of people have died in Turkey as a result of the conflict between the Turkish state and the PKK, with the PKK and its offshoots carrying out numerous attacks against the military, security forces and civilians, and Turkey carrying out operations in the southeast of the country with the aim of expelling the PKK.
  • Turkey considers any support for the Syrian YPG, which it considers an offshoot of the PKK, as support for the PKK. The YPG has been supported by many Western countries in the fight against ISIL (ISIS).
  • Turkey has carried out several military operations in Syria and Iraq in recent years, targeting the PKK and the YPG.

What did NATO and Turkey agree on?

  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the terms of the deal meant that Sweden would step up work on Turkish requests to extradite suspected fighters and change Swedish and Finnish laws to toughen their approach to them. regard.
  • Stoltenberg also said Sweden and Finland would lift restrictions on arms sales to Turkey.
  • Ankara hailed the deal as a triumph. The Turkish president’s office said Turkey had ‘got what it wanted’ from the deal, and that it meant ‘full cooperation with Turkey in the fight against the PKK and its affiliates’, including the YPG .
  • Finland and Sweden also agreed “not to impose embargo restrictions in the field of defense industry” on Turkey and to take “concrete steps for the extradition of terrorist criminals”.
  • A senior US administration official told Reuters that Turkey had not tied its longstanding demand for US F-16 fighter jets to securing the deal. The United States previously blocked Turkey from acquiring F-35 fighter jets after Ankara purchased the S-400 missile defense system from Russia in 2017.
  • Before leaving for Madrid, Erdogan said he would push US President Joe Biden to strike a deal for F-16 fighter jets. Biden is expected to meet Erdogan at the summit.

What does this mean for NATO and the Russian-Ukrainian war?

  • Stoltenberg said NATO leaders would extend a formal invitation to Finland and Sweden on Wednesday.
  • It will probably take months for Finland and Sweden to officially join NATO, as their entry into the alliance must be ratified by all member states.
  • NATO countries, which have already committed billions of dollars in military assistance to Ukraine, should agree on a “comprehensive package of assistance to Ukraine, to help it uphold the right to self-defense,” Stoltenberg said.
  • Russia has firmly opposed Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership, seeing it as another encroachment of the transatlantic alliance on Russian territory. NATO was created in 1949 as a defense alliance with the primary purpose of confronting the Soviet Union and is still seen as a threat by Russia.

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