Summit of US and EU officials on Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership progress :: WRAL.com

– EU and US officials do not expect Turkey’s concerns over Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership to be assuaged ahead of the alliance’s summit this week, officials said Americans and Europeans on CNN.

Still, some officials believe Turkey may be eyeing the summit as a venue to finally strike deals that could move the process forward.

“My best projection based on what I’ve seen is that they’re going to put that on the wire in Madrid. They also always prefer if they’re going to make concessions to do it at leader level, they think that improves that status,” a European official said of the matter. “It is Turkey’s standard operating procedure not to make concessions until the last possible moment. And that last possible moment is usually defined as a bilateral agreement with the US president, followed by a meeting of the leaders.”

But Turkish officials have said they see no “limited timeline” for the talks, and some Americans and Europeans are less convinced Turkey is ready to strike a deal in Spain.

White House officials have been wary about whether US President Joe Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will meet in Spain. But a person familiar with the matter said they expected the men to speak at some point about the membership process, although it was not turned into a formal bilateral meeting.

US officials have been cautious about inserting Biden directly into talks, aware that such close US involvement could up the ante and escalate Erdoğan’s demand – including the extradition request. likely of a US-based cleric whom Erdoğan accuses of orchestrating a 2015 coup attempt.

Yet US officials are still confident that the applications from Finland and Sweden will eventually be accepted.

Erdoğan accused the two countries of harboring members of the separatist militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party, also known as the PKK, which Turkey considers a terrorist organization. Turkey also wants countries to get rid of the embargo on arms sales to Turkey that was put in place after Turkey’s military intervention in northern Syria in 2019.

As talks drag on for more than a month, US and EU officials are growing frustrated with how Turkey has hammered out what they initially hoped would be a quick entry into the defensive alliance for both. country. Some officials now fear that Turkey wants more in terms of concessions than it publicly declares.

“There are concerns about the delay and what else Turkey might do as it recognizes the influence it currently has,” said a second EU official.

A lack of progress on the two countries’ late joining would put a damper on the high-level gathering where leaders seek ways to bolster the defensive military alliance. Over the past few weeks, officials had said they wanted to have the challenge in the rear-view mirror when it came time to meet in Spain.

At one point, officials said privately that they hoped the Madrid summit would serve as a welcoming party for the two new members of the alliance. This would have sent a clear message to Russia about NATO’s growing capabilities.

“My intention is to have this in place before the NATO summit,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said of Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO accession process. as he stood alongside Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this month. “At the same time, I know that to move forward, we need 30 allies to get along.”

Last week, Turkey met with officials from both countries and NATO, but there was no breakthrough after the meeting.

And meanwhile, with the ongoing war in Ukraine, Turkey has also been involved in direct talks with Russia – which ardently opposes NATO expansion – over the need to get the Ukrainian grain out. from the country.

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