US State Secretary Blinken urges speedy Nordics accession to NATO

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday Washington strongly supports Sweden and Finland’s quick NATO accession given steps they have already taken, even as his Turkish counterpart stressed the need for more concrete action.

The Nordic countries’ NATO bids have been stalled because Turkey has refused to ratify them, saying Stockholm in particular has harbored what it calls members of terrorist groups. Ankara recently indicated it would approve only Finland.

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“Finland and Sweden have already taken concrete steps to fulfil the commitments that they met under the trilateral memorandum of agreement that they signed," Blinken said, adding that the United States strongly supported their accession into the alliance "as quickly as possible."

He reiterated that NATO’s Nordic expansion issue is not a bilateral one with Turkey.

But Cavusoglu, alongside Blinken, said all parties in the alliance must convince Sweden in particular to take more action to address Ankara’s concerns and win its support for the bid.

When asked if Ankara would approve their accession by a NATO summit set to take place in Lithuania in July, a gathering by which the Western countries are hoping the expansion can be completed, Cavusoglu said Stockholm needed to do more.

“Sweden made a law change, but we see that every kind of activity, including terrorism financing, recruitment and propaganda, is continuing in Sweden,” he said.

“If they take steps that convince our parliament and people, there could be a development in this direction,” he added.

Sweden and Finland applied last year to join the trans-Atlantic defense pact after Russia invaded Ukraine but faced unexpected objections from Turkey.

Ankara wants Helsinki and Stockholm in particular to take a tougher line against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey and its Western allies, and another group it blames for a 2016 coup attempt.

In January, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was open to ratifying only Helsinki’s application.

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