ADDS REMARKS FROM NATO CHIEF, LEADERS OF SWEDEN AND FINLAND
By Beyza Binnur Donmez
MADRID (AA) – Türkiye, Finland and Sweden signed a memorandum Tuesday on the Nordic countries’ bids for NATO membership following four-way talks in Madrid.
Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto and Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson met to discuss the issue and Ankara's related concerns.
The memorandum was signed by the foreign ministers of the three countries -- Türkiye's Mevlut Cavusoglu, Pekka Haavisto of Finland and Ann Linde of Sweden -- in the presence of all three national leaders and Stoltenberg.
Following the signing ceremony, the NATO chief said at a press conference that he is "pleased" to announce that the three nations reached an agreement that paves the way for the Nordic countries to join the military alliance.
"I strongly welcome the signing of this trilateral memorandum, and I strongly welcome the constructive approach all three countries have shown during the negotiations," he said.
"Finnish and Swedish membership in NATO is good for Finland and Sweden, it is good for NATO, and it is good for European security."
He added that the signed memorandum addresses Türkiye's concerns about arms exports and the fight against terrorism.
Asked whether Sweden and Finland will be invited to join NATO at tomorrow's summit meeting, Stoltenberg said that tomorrow the leaders of allied countries will take a decision to invite Sweden and Finland to join the alliance.
"After this summit, Finland and Sweden will be invited countries," he added, reminding that there is a ratification process in the assemblies of all member states.
Finland and Sweden also welcomed the agreement following the four-way talks.
Noting that this agreement is valuable for the Swedish people, Andersson said: "I think it is good that we reached this agreement for the safety of Sweden and the Swedish people."
For his part, Niinisto said on Twitter: "Our joint memorandum underscores the commitment of Finland, Sweden and Türkiye to extend their full support against threats to each other's security. Us becoming NATO Allies will further strengthen this commitment."
Noting that Finland takes Türkiye's concerns "seriously," he said: "Finland condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. As a NATO member, Finland will commit fully to the counterterrorism documents and policies of NATO."
"I am delighted to conclude this stage on Finland's road to NATO membership. I now look forward to fruitful conversations on Finland's role in NATO with our future Allies here in Madrid," he added.
Sweden and Finland formally applied to join the alliance last month, a decision spurred by Russia's war on Ukraine.
But Türkiye, a longstanding member of the alliance, voiced objections to the membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups.
Stoltenberg has constantly said that Türkiye has “legitimate concerns related to their fight against the PKK terrorist group and other organizations” and that the PKK is considered a terrorist organization by NATO, the EU, as well as Finland and Sweden.
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.