Turkey on Tuesday dropped its opposition to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, seemingly clearing the way for the two nations to enter the trans-Atlantic alliance and delivering a major boost to Western solidarity amid the Russia-Ukraine war.
“We now have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO,” Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary-general, said Tuesday in Madrid, where the alliance is holding a major strategic summit this week.
Turkish officials said their nation “got what it wanted” from Sweden and Finland, including “full cooperation” against Kurdish rebel groups that Ankara considers terrorists. Representatives from Turkey, Finland, Sweden and NATO reportedly met for more than two hours Tuesday before the agreement was made public.
Turkey has long been critical of Sweden and Finland for their approach toward the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a rebel group with links to the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF. The SDF has been the chief U.S. partner in the years-long fight against the terror group the Islamic State in Syria, and Sweden in particular is home to a large community of Kurdish exiles.
Turkey‘s state-run Anadolu news agency reported that the document signed Tuesday by the three nations includes a commitment by Sweden and Finland to “take concrete steps” on the extradition of terrorists back to Turkey. Sweden and Finland also will investigate and stop any financing or recruitment efforts by the PKK, Anadolu reported.
Finland and Sweden also will not impose any arms embargoes on the Turkish defense industry, Anadolu said, according to the terms of the agreement.
The U.S. State Department still lists the PKK on its list of foreign terrorist organizations. A Biden administration official told The Associated Press that Washington did not offer Turkey any special incentives or concessions to drop its opposition the Scandinavian nations’ bids, which must be approved unanimously by NATO‘s 27 members.