When the US holds a digital press conference ahead of this week’s meeting of defense ministers within NATO, it’s clear that Swedish-Finnish membership applications remain a subject of interest.
Nearly half of all the previously submitted questions repeat the same topic: What is NATO doing to overcome Turkey’s opposition to Sweden and Finland?
Although not much new is introduced.
Several different attempts are being made at the moment, in different forms, explains US Ambassador Julian Smith.
In addition to talks between Sweden, Finland and Turkey, she notes, both the United States and other NATO countries are paying.
– They picked up their phones, called and asked how they could play constructive roles. And here at NATO, of course we sit together and have had several conversations with all 30 (members) of the North Atlantic Council, listening to the concerns expressed by Turkey, says Smith.
Our goal is to try to see if we can participate Sweden and Finland as potential members (invited in English) at the summit in Madrid (28-30 June), says the ambassador.
Turkey’s opposition so far means that the formal accession process has not yet been able to begin. Smith and the US still say they are confident this will happen. The question is just when.
“I can’t say anything for sure about the time, but behind closed doors we are dealing with the concerns that Turkey has put on the table,” says Smith.
The press conference will take place before a two-day meeting of defense ministers in Brussels, where Sweden and Finland will take part in a corner, where they have been specially invited to dinner tonight.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made it clear that he is in no hurry to resolve the conflict with Sweden and Finland.
Julian Smith hopes, however, that everything will be arranged “in a matter of weeks or months, not even a year or so”.
It is encouraging to hear what is really going on in different capitals to prepare for the certification process when it comes to this stage, says Smith.
In the corridors of NATO, you feel and notice strong support for these two countries and an interest in accelerating this matter as quickly as possible. But it is also in our interest to work with Turkey and the concerns that have been expressed, says the US ambassador to NATO.
NATO Defense Ministers gather on Wednesday and Thursday for a two-day meeting in Brussels, among other things to prepare for the Summit of Heads of State and Government of member states in Madrid on June 28-30.
On Wednesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will hold an introductory press conference at 11am, after which defense ministers will gather during the evening for a working dinner involving Sweden, Finland, the European Union, Georgia and Ukraine.
On Thursday, NATO ministers will hold two working sessions at 9.30 and 12.30, after which Stoltenberg will hold a closing press conference at 15.
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