United States repeats support for Finland and Sweden to join NATO

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By Euronews  with AP
Anthony Blinken and Mevlut Cavusoglu
Anthony Blinken and Mevlut Cavusoglu   -  Copyright  Burhan Ozbilici/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken on his first visit to Turkey following his appointment two years ago, has reiterated Washington’s support for Sweden and Finland’s quick accession to NATO.

The Nordic country’s bid to join the military alliance has been blocked by Ankara which says that Stockholm in particular has harboured the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which it considers a terrorist group.

Relations between the United States and Turkey have been strained in recent years, but Washington has recently viewed Ankara as helpful for its mediatory role between Russia and Ukraine following Moscow’s invasion.

‘United States greatly values Turkey’s contribution as a long-standing and active member of the NATO alliance, and we'll keep working together to strengthen and grow our alliance including through the accession of Sweden and Finland, which will help deliver even stronger, and more capable assets to the alliance,’ Blinken said.

While the U.S. Secretary of State said both countries have taken steps to fulfil the commitments they have made, his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said more concrete action is needed to win its support.

‘Relatively our problems with Finland are less (than with Sweden). So, the calendar that you have shared with respect to the NATO summit in Vilnius, these are tied in relation to the steps that are to be taken by Sweden,’ said Cavusoglu.

Both Helsinki and Stockholm abandoned their neutrality after the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year and applied to join NATO. All existing members of the transatlantic alliance must ratify its expansion.