Blinken says he is convinced that Finland and Sweden will join NATO

U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken – Michael Brochstein/ZUMA Press Wi / DPA

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday expressed his conviction that Finland and Sweden will soon be welcomed as NATO members despite the misgivings expressed by Turkey.

«I am convinced that Finland and Sweden will soon be formally received as (NATO) members. Since the NATO summit in Madrid, both countries have taken important concrete steps to fulfill their commitments, including those related to the security concerns of our ally Turkey,» Blinken said during a three-way meeting in Washington with his Swedish and Finnish counterparts Tobias Billstrom and Pekka Haavisto, as reported by Swedish public television SVT.

The three countries signed in the margins of the Atlantic Alliance leaders’ summit in Madrid an agreement by which Ankara committed itself to withdraw its veto in exchange for a series of concessions from Helsinki and Stockholm, starting with the surrender of individuals wanted by Turkey for their membership in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), considered a terrorist organization by the Turkish government, as well as the development of military relations.

Billstrom, for his part, thanked Blinken for the U.S. commitment to European security, its financial support for Ukraine and its support for Finland’s and Sweden’s applications. «Our NATO accession processes are progressing well. We look forward to joining and contributing to the alliance,» the minister has made known.

On the other hand, Finland is considering granting export permits for certain weapons to Turkey, Finnish Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen also said Thursday during talks on the Nordic country’s NATO candidacy in Ankara.

Finland could process some export applications «in the near future,» Finnish radio station YLE quoted Kaikkonen as saying. However, the weapons would not be delivered without careful controls, the minister added, following in Sweden’s footsteps in this regard.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, for his part, stressed the need for Sweden and Finland to help the Turkish Army in its modernization process as a prerequisite for joining the Atlantic Alliance, according to the official Turkish news agency, Anatolia, on the press conference held afterwards by both ministers.