Why NATO allies are relying on Joe Biden to convince Turkey over Finland and Sweden bids

Biden gives Finland and Sweden 'complete backing' to join NATO

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Turkey is standing firm in the face of Sweden and Finland’s bids to join NATO, which were announced last week following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. On Wednesday morning, Finland and Sweden’s ambassadors formally handed their membership requests to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

The Nordic countries are both applying the membership in the security alliance in the aftermath of President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

But the plans have already run into a huge roadblock that could only be resolved by the USA.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would block the bid due to sanctions placed on his country by Sweden.

Sweden suspended arms sales to Turkey three years ago, following Ankara’s military intervention in Syria.

Turkey also takes issue with Sweden’s support of Kurdish groups, such as the Kurdistan Worker’s Party and the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria.

The PKK, which seeks an independent state in Turkey, has been in an armed struggle with that country for decades and has been designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

According to Istanbul, Finland and Sweden have rejected dozens of requests to extradite Kurdish militants which Turkey describes as terrorists.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said shortly after the Scandinavian countries announced their NATO bids: “Neither of these countries have a clear, open attitude towards terrorist organisations. How can we trust them?”

Both countries will need all 30 members of NATO to approve their bid to join, and the ratification process was expected to take up to a year until President Erdogan condemned the plans.

Diplomats are racing to find a solution with Turkey so a formal start can be made on the ascension process after talks held on Wednesday did not result in the desired outcome.

On Wednesday, the Turkish leader said: “We will continue our policy in a determined way.

“We have told allies that we will say no to Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership.”

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He added:” “You will not give us terrorists, but you will get up and ask us for NATO membership.

“NATO is a security formation, a security organisation, so we cannot say ‘yes’ to depriving this security organisation of security.”

While President Erdogan attempts to stall the proceedings, Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö has said the issue will be addressed in his upcoming meeting with US President Joe Biden.

Taking place later this week, it is unknown whether Mr Niinistö will request help from the US President in convincing Turkey to allow the Nordic nations to join.

But President Biden seems more positive on the matter. When asked on Wednesday how he will convince Turkey to support Finland and Sweden’s bids for membership, Biden told reporters: “I think we’re gonna be OK.”

Speaking on Wednesday following a meeting with his US counterpart, Lloyd Austin, in Washington, Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said that “we want to have contact with Turkey and our ambition is that this be resolved as quickly as possible”.

He said: “We are interested in as quick of a process as possible.”

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