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President Niinistö: Turkey agrees to support Finnish, Swedish Nato bids

The announcement comes after Finland's President Sauli Niinistö and Swedish PM Magdalena Andersson met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Madrid.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

Turkey will back Finland and Sweden's applications to join the Nato alliance, according to a statement issued on Tuesday evening by the Office of President Sauli Niinistö.

The announcement comes after Niinistö, alongside Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the sidelines of a Nato summit in Madrid to discuss Finland's and Sweden's stalled applications for Nato membership.

Finnish foreign minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) is also part of Finland's delegation.

"As a result of that meeting, our foreign ministers signed a trilateral memorandum which confirms that Türkiye will at the Madrid Summit this week support the invitation of Finland and Sweden to become members of Nato," the statement said, adding that the steps to accession will be agreed by the 30 current member countries of the alliance over the next two days.

The agreement was confirmed by Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who told reporters that Turkey's concerns over Finnish and Swedish membership had now been addressed.

"I am pleased to announce that we now have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join Nato," Stoltenberg said.

Due to extended discussions, the president's press briefing was hours later than scheduled.

In May, after the Nordic countries submitted their respective applications to the military alliance, Erdoğan halted the process, accusing the nations of "protecting terrorists," issuing a list of demands that needed to be met before it would allow the applications to proceed.

The application process requires unanimous approval from all 30 of the alliance's member countries. To date, Turkey is the sole Nato member which has pushed back on Finland's and Sweden's applications.

Tripartite document

According to Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat, Finnish, Swedish and Turkish leaders formulated a tripartite document that addresses Turkey's concerns, following recent diplomatic discussions.

Just ahead of Tuesday's meeting, Niinistö said he was neither optimistic nor pessimistic about the situation, adding that it was most important to get negotiations started.

Finland's and Sweden's Nato membership applications are not on the meeting's official agenda, and the three day summit will cover several other matters, including plans to further support Ukraine in its defence against Russia's ongoing invasion.

At the summit, Nato members will adopt a new 10-year strategic concept, a document defining security challenges the alliance faces and also outlines the political and military efforts needed to address those issues.