NATO warms to ‘closest partners’ Finland and Sweden’s membership bids

NATO members’ international ministers meet on Sunday in Berlin to debate offering additional help to Ukraine and strikes by Finland, Sweden and others to affix the western alliance within the face of threats from Russia.

Finland and Sweden have already taken steps towards becoming a member of the alliance, whereas Georgia’s bid is once more being mentioned regardless of dire warnings from Moscow in regards to the penalties if the previous Soviet state joins.

“Finland and Sweden are already the closest companions of NATO,” NATO Deputy-Secretary General Mircea Geoana said, adding that he expected allies to view their applications positively.

Geoana chaired the meeting as Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is recovering from a COVID-19 infection.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said her country and others made clear during a dinner late on Saturday that they would be willing to fast-track the national ratification process for Finland and Sweden.

“If these two countries are deciding to join, they can join very quickly,” she said.

Denmark’s foreign minister dismissed suggestions that objections from Russian President Vladimir Putin could hinder the alliance from letting in new members.

“Each and every European country has a fundamental right to choose their own security arrangement,” Jeppe Kofod advised reporters.

“We see now a world the place the enemy of democracy primary is Putin and the considering that he represents,” he stated, including that NATO would additionally stand with different international locations, corresponding to Georgia, which he stated had been being “instrumentalised” by Russia.

But Turkey has warned that it might veto the functions, as a result of it says Finland and Sweden each help Kurdish teams which it considers “terrorist” organisations.

“A big majority of the Turkish people are against the membership of those countries who are supporting PKK, YPG terrorist organisation,” Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, stated.

“And they are asking us to block this membership,” he added.

Finland’s international minister downplayed Turkey’s objections earlier than the talks started.

“I yesterday called to my good colleague Mevlut Cavusoglu the Foreign minister, a little bit to take the tensions down and we will also meet today and I’m sure that we will find the solution to this item,” Pekka Haavisto advised reporters.

The assembly follows a gathering of international ministers from the Group of Seven main economies on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast this week.

Officials there expressed sturdy help for Ukraine and warned that Russia’s blockade of grain exports from Ukrainian ports risks stoking a global food crisis.

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