The US government says it will “soon be able to call” Sweden and Finland NATO allies, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said following a meeting with his Swedish and Finnish counterparts on Thursday, December 8, when asked about their admission into the defense alliance.
Finland and Sweden asked to join NATO earlier this year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but have faced ratification delays from Turkey and Hungary.
Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdo?an has accused both countries of harboring members of the separatist militant Kurdistan’s Workers Party, also known as PKK, which Turkey views as a terrorist organization.
Erdo?an has also called on Finland to publicly abandon the arms embargo it imposed on Turkey in 2019, after it invaded northern Syria. A step which Sweden — which had joined the embargo — took in September.
But the US department says the process is still going to plan.
“I am convinced based on everything I know that we will soon be able to call both countries formally our allies … Finland and Sweden are already integrating into our work,” Blinken told reporters at the State Department. “There can be no doubt on anyone’s part that they are ready today to be members of the alliance.”
“Turkey has raised important security concerns in this process, and the process is being used effectively and productively to address those concerns. I won’t speak for either of my colleagues on that except to say as we’ve observed it, what both countries have done in engaging with Turkey and with NATO itself, has been to address those concerns in tangible ways,” Blinken said.
“And we’ve seen these countries take tangible steps to again address the concerns that Turkey has raised. So, I’m confident that this is moving forward.”
NATO decisions are made by consensus, which means all 30 alliance member states must approve the two Nordic nations joining. Turkey is the only member that has voiced opposition to their membership, while Hungary says it will ratify the membership of Sweden and Finland early 2023.