Erdoğan, NATO, Finland, Sweden

Turkey ends in Madrid its veto to NATO enlargement

Russia is pointed out as a threat to Europe while Finland and Sweden agree to fight against the PKK, after the historic NATO summit in Madrid

Turkey withdrew its veto on NATO enlargement to the Nordic countries during the Atlantic Alliance summit in Madrid, after Ankara “got what it wanted” from Finland and Sweden and both countries promised to fight the PKK terrorist group: an outcome that ends the dangerous impasse that threatened NATO’s expansion to the north at a time when Europe is facing its worst security crisis since World War II due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Turkey has made significant achievements in the fight against terrorism. Turkey has achieved what it wanted,” Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan‘s office reported yesterday in a statement after announcing the lifting of the veto on NATO expansion, once Stockholm and Helsinki have committed to lift the arms embargo that weighed on Turkey and to combat organizations such as the PKK, considered a terrorist group not only by Ankara but also by the European Union.

The agreement was reached after a four-way meeting held in Madrid by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, with the main objective of addressing the objections that the Turkish government had against the incorporation of Sweden and Finland into the Atlantic Alliance, of which Turkey has been a member since 1952.

After the agreement reached in the Spanish capital, Turkey lifts its veto once both countries have committed to “fully cooperate with Turkey in its fight against the PKK” and other terrorist organizations, according to the statement issued by the office of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey; Sweden and Finland also end the ban on the delivery of weapons to Turkey, imposed as a result of the military operation launched in Syria in 2019 precisely against the Syrian branch of the PKK, the YPG.

Sweden and Finland will persecute PKK activities

Thus, and according to the aforementioned statement, both Sweden and Finland have accepted – during the meeting in Madrid with the Turkish delegation led by Erdoğan – to prohibit “fundraising and recruitment activities” of individuals and groups linked to the PKK, as well as to take measures to “prevent the propaganda of terrorist organizations against Turkey”.

Stockholm and Helsinki will also review and process as soon as possible the deportation and extradition requests made by Ankara – suspended for years – against suspects of terrorist activities in Turkey, taking into account the data, evidence and intelligence reports provided by Ankara in this regard.

After the signing ceremony of the agreement, the Secretary General of the Alliance himself congratulated the three countries for the “signing of the trilateral memorandum”. “I am very satisfied with the constructive stance that the three countries have shown during the negotiations,” Stoltenberg said, stressing that the signed memorandum addresses all the concerns raised by Turkey.

Historic NATO summit in Madrid

The summit of NATO leaders held in Madrid plans to establish a new strategy for the Alliance for the next decade, in which “Russia represents a direct threat to our security“, according to words spoken by Stoltenberg before announcing the content of the document that will come out after the “historic and transformative” summit in the Spanish capital, and that includes a massive reinforcement of the military presence on the southern and eastern flanks of the organization.

“We are meeting in the midst of the most serious security crisis we have faced since World War II,” Stoltenberg stressed during the summit, in which, in addition to “clearly” pointing to Russia as a threat to Europe’s security, for the first time the challenges posed by China’s growing military might are mentioned.

China is not our enemy. But of course, we must take into account the consequences for our security when we see that China is investing heavily in new and modern military capabilities, long-range missiles or nuclear weapons, and also trying to control critical infrastructure, such as 5G,” said Stoltenberg.

This NATO summit in Madrid, in addition to the enlargement of the organization to the north after the end of the Turkey’s veto, is also historic for the first time attendance by the leaders of Japan and South Korea, non-member countries of the NATO Atlantic Alliance but allies, and key to its security in the face of the growing power of China and the displacement of the West’s main strategic axis from the Atlantic to the Pacific.