Sweden and Finland have long preferred neutrality over becoming members of the military alliance. Their positions have shifted since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, with both nations now seeking to strengthen their security.
Most NATO countries have expressed their willingness to accept the applications of the Nordic countries with open arms.
But all existing members must accept for an application to be successful.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has highlighted his frustration with what he sees as Sweden and Finland’s willingness to host Kurdish militants.
The termination of political support for what he brands “terrorism” is at the top of his list of demands for NATO expansion in these areas to be given the thumbs up.
Erdogan listed the lifting of embargoes and sanctions as another must-do, noting: “We will not say ‘yes’ to those [countries] who apply sanctions to Turkey to join security organisation NATO.”
His other demands were the elimination of sources of “terrorism financing” and the ending of arms support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (the PKK).
Ankara also insisted that NATO members, including those which are vying to join the club, should “cooperate at a high level in combating terrorism” and “take principled steps and provide concrete assurances regarding Turkey’s security concerns”.
Delegations from the two Nordic countries will arrive in the city tomorrow, on May 25, to discuss the NATO application process.
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Erdogan also spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg over the weekend and told him cooperation must be shown from both Sweden and Finland over Turkey’s demands for its approval to be granted.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned the expansion of the military in these areas would have “far-reaching consequences”.
He branded the move a “mistake”.
Vladimir Putin also warned against the “expansion of military infrastructure” within NATO’s expanded borders.
Sweden shares a maritime border with Russia, while Finland’s land border with the country stretches for over 800 miles.