Nato 'will overcome Turkey's objections' to Finland and Sweden joining

Ankara has condemned the two Nordic countries' support for PKK Kurdish militants

A Leopard tank during Arrow 22 exercises at Niinisalo garrison in western Finland. Nato membership is on Finland's agenda after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. AFP
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Turkey’s opposition to Finland and Sweden joining Nato can be overcome, the military alliance’s deputy chief said as the group’s foreign ministers met for talks in Berlin.

The Finnish leadership announced on Sunday it will apply for Nato membership, while Sweden is set to follow.

Two days of talks in the German capital are focused on the two nations' membership applications.

But the Nordic countries’ intentions to join the alliance were in doubt on Saturday when Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu raised objections.

He said it was “unacceptable and outrageous” that the prospective Nato members gave support to the outlawed Kurdish militant political group PKK.

It was not clear whether discussions between Mr Cavusoglu and several Nato foreign ministers that included their Finnish and Swedish counterparts later in the evening led to progress in resolving the dispute.

As talks resumed on Sunday, Mircea Geoana, Nato's Deputy Secretary General, said he was confident that Ankara's concerns could be addressed.

Nato Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana talks to Annalena Baerbock, Foreign Minister of Germany, before a Nato meeting in Berlin on Sunday. EPA

“Turkey is an important ally and expressed concerns that are addressed between friends and allies,” Mr Geoana said.

“I am confident if these countries decide to seek membership in Nato we will be able to welcome them, to find all conditions for consensus to be met.”

Britain is among the Nato members who have shown strong support for Finnish and Swedish membership.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, speaking to reporters in Berlin on Sunday, said she and her fellow Nato foreign ministers were “very pleased to be joined by our friends Finland and Sweden”.

“If they do apply to join Nato, the UK is strongly supportive of that,” she said. “We’re also working closely with the Ukrainians and the Poles and others to make sure that Ukraine has Nato standard defence.”

Ms Truss said ministers taking part in the discussions in Berlin should focus on “a global Nato” because in addition to protection Euro-Atlantic security, “we also need to watch out for Indo-Pacific security”.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Nato must give Finland and Sweden a guarantee of security during the membership process.

“Germany has prepared everything to do a quick ratification process,” she said. “We must make sure that we will give them security guarantees. There must not be a transition period, a grey zone, where their status is unclear.”

Ms Baerbock was referring to the ratification period during which a country is not protected by Nato’s Article 5, which stipulates that an attack on one is an attack on all.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, meanwhile, said the US has pledged to send more weapons and aid to the war zone on the edges of Nato.

Mr Kuleba said he met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Berlin on Sunday and that “more weapons and other aid are on the way to Ukraine”.

“We agreed to work closely together to ensure that Ukrainian food exports reach consumers in Africa and Asia. Grateful to Secretary Blinken and the US for their leadership and unwavering support,” Mr Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

The two men discussed the effects of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, including the global food situation, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

“The secretary conveyed details regarding the latest tranche of US security assistance to bolster Ukraine’s defences,” Mr Price said.

Mr Kuleba was scheduled to brief Nato foreign ministers meeting on Sunday on the situation in Ukraine and on how the alliance can help the country against Russian forces for a 12th week.

Updated: May 15, 2022, 12:41 PM