US meets with skeptical Turkey over Finland, Sweden NATO accession

Associated Press/Manuel Balce Ceneta

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday met in Istanbul with the Turkish president’s chief adviser to discuss ongoing efforts to add Finland and Sweden to NATO, according to a White House statement. 

Sullivan talked with Ibrahim Kalin, the spokesperson and chief adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, about the ongoing war in Ukraine and international efforts to aid the country against Russian attacks.  

According to a White House statement, Turkey condemned Russia’s moves last week to annex occupied Ukrainian territory, and the two officials discussed “progress on NATO accession for Finland and Sweden.” 

Finland and Sweden both applied to join NATO in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, following a shift in public opinion in favor of joining the military alliance in the face of Russian aggression.

But Turkey initially pushed back against the potential additions. A NATO member, Turkey has maintained what Erdoğan called a “balanced foreign policy” with regard to Russia and Ukraine. 

Although Turkey agreed to lift its veto of Finland and Sweden’s accession in June, Ankara has since said the countries are not fulfilling their end of the deal to ensure mutual security.

As of late September, just two countries are yet to ratify the NATO expansion: Turkey and Hungary, according to a tracker from the Atlantic Council.

A unanimous vote from all 30 countries in the NATO alliance is needed to advance Finland and Sweden to membership.  

Tags Finland Jake Sullivan NATO Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Recep Tayyip Erdoğan russia Sweden Turkey ukraine
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