Washington strongly supports Sweden and Finland’s quick NATO accession given steps they have already taken, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday, even as his Turkish counterpart stressed the need for more concrete action.
Sweden and Finland applied last year to join the trans-Atlantic defence pact after Russia invaded Ukraine, but faced unexpected objections from Turkey.
Ankara says Stockholm has harboured what Ankara calls members of terrorist groups. Turkey recently indicated it would approve only Finland for NATO membership.
“Finland and Sweden have already taken concrete steps to fulfil the commitments that they met under the trilateral memorandum of agreement that they signed,” Blinken said.
Reiterating that NATO’s Nordic expansion issue is not a bilateral one with Turkey, Blinken said the United States strongly supported Sweden and Finland’s accession into the alliance “as quickly as possible”.
But Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, standing alongside Blinken, said all parties in the alliance must convince Sweden in particular to take more action to address Ankara’s concerns and win its support for the bid.
When asked if Ankara would approve their accession by a NATO summit set to take place in Lithuania in July, a gathering by which the Western countries are hoping the expansion can be completed, Cavusoglu said Stockholm needed to do more.
“Sweden made a law change, but we see that every kind of activities, including terrorism financing, recruitment and propaganda, are continuing in Sweden,” he said.
“If they take steps that convince our parliament and people, there could be a development in this direction,” he added.