US confident Nato's Nordic hopefuls can speed through application process

Turkey has concerns over Finland and Sweden's policies towards Kurdish group PKK

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto at the State Department in Washington to discuss Finland and Sweden's bid to join Nato. EPA
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The US is confident that Turkey’s objections to Sweden and Finland joining Nato can be resolved, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday.

Nato “will work swiftly” through the admission process of Finland and Sweden, he said on Friday.

Finland, which shares a border with Russia, and Sweden have both applied for Nato membership following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

But they need unanimous support from the current members and Turkey has expressed concern over the two countries' policies towards the Kurdish group the PKK.

“The most important thing is that Finland and Sweden are speaking directly with Turkey” and “working through some of the concerns that Turkey has raised”, Mr Blinken said at a news conference in Washington alongside Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto.

Mr Blinken said the US has no reason to believe Turkey’s concerns cannot be addressed.

“The United States fully supports Finland and Sweden joining the alliance and I continue to be confident that both will soon be Nato members,” Mr Blinken added.

“We look forward to being able to call Finland and Sweden our allies.”

Mr Haavisto said his country and Sweden had held “good negotiations” with the Turks over their concerns in recent days and that those discussions would continue with an eye towards resolving them before the Nato summit in Madrid at the end of June.

“We agreed to continue to those talks. We think that these problems can be solved that Turkey has been raising,” he said.

But Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday that Finland and Sweden would have to take “concrete steps” before Ankara could support their membership.

The Turkish government has expressed concern over the two countries' ties to the PKK — a Kurdish militant group that Turkey considers a terrorist organisation — and has complained over restrictions Finland and Sweden have placed on weapons sales to Ankara due to its actions against the Syrian-Kurdish YPG militia.

Mr Cavusoglu said the Finnish and Swedish negotiating delegations had been given documents detailing Turkey’s concerns and that Ankara was awaiting specific answers.

The Turkish foreign minister added that “an approach of ‘we’ll convince Turkey in time anyway, we are friends and allies’ would not be correct” and insisted that “these countries need to take concrete steps”.

Updated: May 27, 2022, 10:14 PM