U.S. hopes for positive Sweden, Finland NATO bid resolution

US Under Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried attends the donors’ conference for Moldova to help the country deal with the influx of Ukrainian refugees, in Berlin, Germany, on April 5, 2022. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

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WASHINGTON, June 22 (Reuters) – The United States is hopeful that there will soon be a positive resolution to issues between Turkey, Finland and Sweden over the two Nordic countries’ NATO membership bids, said the head of the State Department’s diplomacy for Europe. Wednesday.

Speaking at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) hearing, Karen Donfried, assistant secretary for Europe and Eurasian Affairs, said Washington understood that talks between the parties earlier this week had been constructive.

“We are confident that this will be resolved in a positive way. There is wide and deep support across the NATO alliance for Finland and Sweden to join,” she said.

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Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But the offers have been met with opposition from Turkey, which has been angered by what it says is Helsinki and Stockholm’s support for Kurdish militants and arms embargoes in Ankara.

NATO leaders will meet in Madrid on June 29-30. Any membership in NATO requires the approval of the 30 members of the alliance. Turkey has been a NATO ally for more than 70 years and has the alliance’s second largest army.

When asked if Donfried believes all parties will be on the same page at the Madrid summit next week, she replied: “I will say we are definitely pushing for that.”

Speaking to reporters in Brussels earlier this week after their talks with senior officials from Sweden, Finland and NATO, senior Turkish officials did not express the same sense of urgency as Donfried and said the NATO summit was not a deadline.

Any progress on the Nordic membership bids “now depends on the direction and speed at which these countries take action”, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said. Read more


While the issue officially lies between Sweden, Finland and Turkey, many analysts have speculated that more direct involvement from Biden could facilitate a breakthrough.

Some believe such involvement could be a bilateral meeting between Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Biden.

In a call with reporters, a senior administration official detailed Biden’s upcoming bilateral meetings with world leaders on the sidelines of upcoming G7 and NATO summits, but did not announce any with Erdogan. .

“Although obviously the format of these meetings leaves ample room for leaders to engage on the sidelines,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Ties between the United States and Turkey remain sour as the two NATO allies disagree on a host of issues, including Syria policy and Ankara’s purchase of Russian defense systems.

Biden and Erdogan last met in person in October 2021 on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome.

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Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; edited by Jonathan Oatis and Josie Kao

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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