US acknowledges Turkey's 'legitimate concerns' over NATO bids

Politics News 23 June 2022 13:56
TurkicWorld Daspina Hasanova
US acknowledges Turkey's 'legitimate concerns' over NATO bids

Baku. TurkicWorld:

The United States recognizes Turkiye's legitimate concerns over Finland and Sweden's NATO membership bids and is hopeful for a "positive resolution" soon, a senior State Department official said Wednesday, reports TurkicWorld with the reference DailySabah.

Speaking at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that discussed the proposed accession of the two Nordic nations to NATO, Karen Donfried, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, said their participation would bolster the NATO alliance.

"Both countries will enhance NATO's situational awareness and capabilities in the high north," she said, adding they would also enhance the national security interests of the United States.

In her remarks, Donfried recalled that Ankara raised concerns about some of Finland and Sweden's policies in advance of their accession.

"We recognize Turkiye's legitimate concerns regarding terrorism, which NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg has also highlighted," she said.

Turkiye, Finland and Sweden are currently in talks to address the concerns, which include the PKK terrorist group's activities in both countries.

"The decision within NATO is a consensus decision. And Turkiye has raised some concerns relating to terrorism and the approach of Sweden and Finland. Of course, the United States along with Turkiye shares the desire to end the support of terrorism, and we all take this very seriously," Donfried underscored.

The last talks took place on Monday, which she called "constructive."

"So we are confident that there will be progress here. And that will allow the accession protocols to be signed and the ratification process here to move forward," she added.

Sweden and Finland, amid their NATO bids, are under pressure from Turkiye to end their support for the PKK and its Syrian branch YPG, with Ankara saying that NATO is a security alliance and that any potential members must take a clear stance against terrorism.

The United States is hopeful that there will soon be a positive resolution of the issues between Turkiye, Finland and Sweden regarding the NATO accession bids of the two Nordic countries, the State Department's top diplomat for Europe also said.

"We are confident that this will be resolved in a positive way. There is broad and deep support across the NATO alliance for Finnish and Swedish accession," she said.

Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. But the bids have faced opposition from Turkiye, which has been angered by what it says is Helsinki and Stockholm's support for terrorist groups and arms embargoes on Ankara.

NATO leaders will convene in Madrid on June 29-30. Any NATO membership requires the approval of all 30 members of the alliance. Turkiye has been a NATO ally for more than 70 years and has the alliance's second-largest army.

Asked if Donfried believed whether all parties will be on the same page by the Madrid summit next week, she said: "I will say that we're certainly pushing for that."

Speaking to reporters in Brussels earlier this week following their talks with top representatives from Sweden, Finland and NATO, Turkiye's senior officials did not express the same sense of urgency as Donfried and said the NATO summit was not a deadline.

Any progress on the Nordic membership bids "now depends on the direction and speed at which these countries will take steps," Turkish Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said.

While the problem officially is between Sweden, Finland and Turkiye, many analysts have speculated that a more direct involvement from U.S. President Joe Biden could facilitate a breakthrough.

Some believe such an involvement could be a bilateral meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Biden.

In a call with reporters, a senior administration official detailed Biden's next bilateral meetings with world leaders on the sidelines of the upcoming G-7 and NATO summits but did not announce one with Erdogan.

"Although obviously the format of these meetings leaves ample opportunity for leaders to engage on the margins," said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Ties between the United States and Turkiye remain sour as the two NATO allies are at odds over a host of issues including Syria policy and Ankara's purchase of Russian defense systems.

Biden and Erdogan last met in person in October 2021 on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Rome.