The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is on a course to admit Finland and Sweden following an agreement with Turkey, a move that would add vast territory and new military abilities in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The two Nordic countries, which had long shunned joining the alliance, abruptly changed their stance following Moscow’s attack on its neighbor on Feb. 24.
Both countries applied for NATO membership a month ago, but Turkey had balked, taking exception to how Sweden, in particular, has handled issues of Kurdish terrorism raised by Ankara.
“In light of the progress we have made, [Turkey] has agreed to support Finland and Sweden” in their membership bids, said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in announcing the deal on Tuesday.
All other members of the 30-country alliance had endorsed the two countries bid to join NATO, so Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s agreement with leaders of the two candidate countries appears to clear the way for the alliance’s expansion.
“I’m absolutely confident,” said Mr. Stoltenberg, about the countries’ accession. “We met, we discussed and we found a good solution,” he said, summing up the last-minute deal-making before NATO’s annual summit.
The leaders of the three countries signed a memorandum following a meeting that lasted for more than three hours in Madrid on Tuesday, in which Sweden and Finland committed to work with Turkey on issues of concern to it. [Continue reading…]