US welcomes agreement among Turkey, Finland, and Sweden, as Erdogan drops veto on their NATO membership

The signing of a memorandum in which Turkey agreed to Finland and Sweden's membership of NATO in Madrid, Spain, June 28, 2022. (Photo: Bernat Armangue/AP)
The signing of a memorandum in which Turkey agreed to Finland and Sweden's membership of NATO in Madrid, Spain, June 28, 2022. (Photo: Bernat Armangue/AP)

WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – Late on Tuesday, on the eve of NATO's annual summit, it was announced that Turkey dropped its opposition to Sweden and Finland joining the alliance, paving the way for the two Nordic countries to become members.

The announcement came after US President Joe Biden spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan early on Tuesday morning, calling Erdogan "to urge him to 'seize the moment,'" as a senior administration official told The New York Times. 

Erdogan then met in Madrid, which is hosting the summit, with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

After their meeting, Stoltenberg held a press conference in which he announced that Turkey, Finland, and Sweden had reached an agreement allowing the two Nordic countries to join NATO. Biden then issued a statement hailing the agreement, affirming that the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO would strengthen its "collective security and benefit the entire Transatlantic Alliance."

Jens Stoltenberg Announces Agreement

"I am pleased to announce that we now have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO," Stoltenberg told journalists late on Tuesday. "Türkiye, Finland, and Sweden have signed a memorandum that addresses Türkiye's concerns, including arms exports and the fight against terrorism."

"No ally has suffered more brutal terrorist attacks than Türkiye, including from the terrorist group PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party"], Stoltenberg continued. 

"The governments of Türkiye, Finland and Sweden have agreed to enhance their cooperation on counter-terrorism," and "as NATO allies, Finland and Sweden commit to fully support Türkiye against threats to its national security," he said.

"This includes further amending their domestic legislation, cracking down on PKK activities and entering into an agreement with Türkiye on extradition," he added.

"In light of the progress we have made together," Stoltenberg summarized the result, "Türkiye has agreed to support Finland and Sweden joining NATO."

Greatest Threat to European Security Since World War II

It would be difficult to overstate the concern that Russia's unprovoked aggression against Ukraine has raised in Washington and Europe.

NATO was founded in 1949 in response to Soviet expansionism after World War II, marking the start of the Cold War following the defeat of Nazi Germany. For the next 42 years—until the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union; indeed, of communism itself—Sweden and Norway maintained a fixed neutrality. 

But Vladimir Putin's assault on Ukraine goes far beyond anything seen in Europe since the days of Adolph Hitler. As Biden said some two weeks after Feb. 24, when the Russian invasion began, "Nothing like this has happened since World War II."

Subsequently, Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee, "We are witness to the greatest threat to the peace and security of Europe, and perhaps the world, in my 42 years of service in uniform."

Read More: Top US military officer: 'Greatest threat' to peace and security in my career

British officials have also spoken strongly about the danger. Earlier this month, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Ukraine and returned with a warning, "We need to steel ourselves for a long war."

Subsequently, General Sir Patrick Sanders, Britain's new Army chief, warned that British troops would need to be prepared to fight a war in Europe—a thought that was unthinkable a mere four months before.

"There is now a burning imperative to forge an Army capable of fighting alongside our allies and defeating Russia in battle," Sir Patrick said. 

On Tuesday, Stoltenberg described the confrontation with Russia over Ukraine as "the biggest security crisis in decades." 

On Monday, previewing a major expansion of NATO forces to be reviewed at the summit starting on Wednesday, Stoltenberg described that expansion as "the biggest overhaul of our collective defense and deterrence since the Cold War."