US in support of Sweden and Finland joining Nato

The State Department's top diplomat for Europe and President Joe Biden have reiterated US support for Sweden and Finland joining Nato, ahead of a meeting between Alliance foreign ministers in Berlin on Saturday.

President Joe Biden at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex in Washington, Tuesday, May 10, 2022.
President Joe Biden at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex in Washington, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Photo: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta/TT

In a phone call on Friday morning with Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, US President Joe Biden reiterated support for Nato’s open-door policy, the White House said. He had also stressed that Sweden and Finland had the right to decide their own future.

The State Department’s top diplomat for Europe, Karen Donfried said on Friday: “The United States would support Finland or Sweden joining NATO should they choose to do so.” A formal membership application by the two countries would be “further evidence of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategic miscalculation,” she said.

Finland and Sweden are “valued Nato partners” and “thriving democracies,” Donfried said. Referring to remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the top diplomat said Turkey’s position must now be clarified. 

READ ALSO: Turkey comes out against Swedish and Finnish Nato membership

Erdogan has voiced opposition to Sweden and Finland joining Nato. Scandinavian countries, he said, were “guesthouses for terrorist organizations” such as the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party, or PKK.

But Sweden and Finland’s foreign ministers are hoping to meet their Turkish counterpart in Berlin on Saturday to discuss their countries’ potential Nato bids.

Swedish foreign minister Ann Linde said in a statement to AFP that she would have the opportunity to talk about “a potential Swedish Nato application” with Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu at a Nato meeting in Berlin.

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Sweden not funding or arming ‘terrorist organisations’, PM tells Turkey

Sweden does not fund or arm terrorist organisations, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Wednesday, refuting Turkish claims and opposition to its Nato bid over its support for Kurdish militant groups.

Sweden not funding or arming 'terrorist organisations', PM tells Turkey

“We are not sending money to terrorist organisations, of course, nor any weapons,” Andersson told a Stockholm press conference.

Her remarks came as Finnish and Swedish delegations began discussions with Ankara on Wednesday, which Andersson said would provide an opportunity to
clear up what she said was “confusion” circulating about Swedish support for different groups.

Turkey has opposed the applications of Sweden and neighbouring Finland, in particular Sweden, over what it considers leniency toward Kurdish militant groups in the Nordic countries.

Stockholm and Helsinki submitted their bids to join NATO last week, reversing decades of military non-alignment, after political and public support for membership soared following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A membership bid must be unanimously approved and many of the alliance’s 30 members were quick to welcome them.

Turkey has, however, accused Sweden and Finland of acting as hotbeds for terrorist groups and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has insisted Ankara will not approve the two countries’ bids.

Turkey’s presidency on Monday published a list of five demands for Sweden, including calls for an end to funding and supplying arms to Kurdish groups in Syria.

The two Nordic countries have also failed to respond positively to Turkey’s 33 extradition requests over the past five years, Turkish justice ministry sources told the official Anadolu news agency last week.

The agency reported Turkey wanted individuals who were accused of having links to Kurdish militants or of belonging to a movement blamed for the 2016 attempted overthrow of Erdogan.

Turkey has rebuked Sweden especially for showing what it describes as leniency towards the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).