MADRID: During the present NATO Summit in Madrid, Turkey reversed course and decided to back Sweden and Finland's NATO membership applications, despite ongoing disputes within the military alliance.
A trilateral memorandum addressing Turkey's security concerns was agreed upon and signed on Tuesday afternoon following a extended meeting between the leaders of the three nations and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, as per reports. This cleared the way for the two Nordic states' NATO membership applications.
At a news conference on Tuesday night, Stoltenberg declared, "I am glad to announce that we now have an agreement that enables Sweden and Finland's participation in NATO." He added that the accord also covers agreements on arms exports and a combined effort to combat terrorism.
The moment has come for the 30 various parliaments to decide, said Stoltenberg, adding that this will strengthen NATO as well as Sweden and Finland. NATO stipulates that for a country to be admitted into the alliance, all 30 members must agree on the application.
Although several NATO nations have already given their approval for the two Nordic countries' bid to join the military alliance in mid-May, the process has not been as simple as expected. Turkey immediately voiced concerns, citing Swedish and Finnish ties to the PKK and Syria's Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey regards as terrorist organisations. Also expressing displeasure with the Swedish arms embargo on Turkey is Ankara.