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Turkey lifts objections to Sweden and Finland joining NATO

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted Sweden and Finland to abandon their long-held non-aligned status.

Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO Secretary General.
Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO Secretary General.
Image: AP/PA Images

TURKEY HAS AGREED to lift its opposition to Sweden and Finland joining NATO.

After urgent top-level talks at the group’s meeting in Madrid, alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said “we now have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO”.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted Sweden and Finland to abandon their long-held non-aligned status and apply to join the security body.

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had blocked the move, insisting the Nordic pair change their stance on Kurdish rebel groups that Turkey considers terrorists.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said the three countries’ leaders signed a joint agreement after talks on Tuesday.

Turkey said it had “got what it wanted” including “full cooperation… in the fight against” the rebel groups.

The agreement comes at the opening of a crucial summit dominated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden and other NATO leaders arrived in Madrid for a summit that will set the course of the alliance for the coming years.

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The summit was kicking off with a leaders’ dinner hosted by Spain’s King Felipe VI at the 18th-century Royal Palace of Madrid.

Stoltenberg said the meeting would chart a blueprint for the alliance “in a more dangerous and unpredictable world”.

“To be able to defend in a more dangerous world we have to invest more in our defence,” Stoltenberg said.

Just nine of NATO’s 30 members meet the organisation’s target of spending 2% of gross domestic product on defence. Spain, which is hosting the summit, spends just half that.

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