US, European officials look to summit for progress in Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO accession – CNN

Still, some officials believe Turkey may view the summit as a place to finally reach an agreement that could push the process forward.

“My best projection based on what I’ve seen is that it will be done in Madrid. They also always prefer if they make concessions to do it at the leader level, they believe it improves that status,” said one European official talking about it. The standard operating procedure of Turkey is not to make concessions until the last possible moment. And that last possible moment is usually defined as bilateral with the US president, followed by a meeting of leaders. “

But Turkish officials have said they do not see any “limited timetable” for the talks, and some the US and Europeans are less convinced that Turkey is ready to reach an agreement in Spain.

White House officials have been cautious about whether US President Joe Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will meet in Spain. But one person familiar with the issue said they expect the men to talk about the accession process at some point, although it may not turn into a formal bilateral meeting.

Addressing reporters at the G7 summit in Germany, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the goal ahead of the Madrid summit was to “create as much positive momentum as possible behind the candidacies of Finland and Sweden,” though he warned: “I don’t sit here today and I suggest that all issues be resolved by Madrid. “

He said no formal bilateral meeting had been scheduled between Biden and Erdogan, but that “they might have a chance to see each other”.

“Let’s see how the next 24 hours go. Today there is a rush of diplomatic activity,” he said.

Biden, he said, “very closely” followed the development of events.

“His team is working on it with Finns, Swedes and Turks, and I am on the phone every day with my colleagues,” he said. – So, let’s see how things go.

U.S. officials have been wary of involving Biden directly in the debate, aware that such close U.S. involvement could increase stakes and escalate Erdogan’s request – including a possible extradition request for a U.S.-based priest Erdoğan accuses of organizing a state attempt stroke 2016..

Still, U.S. officials remain confident of implementation from Finland and Sweden will eventually be successful.
Erdoğan accused the two countries of hiding members of the separatist militant The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, also known as the PKK, which Turkey considers a terrorist organization. Turkey also wants those countries to get rid of the embargo on arms sales to Turkey that was imposed after Turkish military intervention in northern Syria in 2019.

As the talks lasted more than a month, U.S. and European officials became increasingly quietly frustrated that Turkey had pulled out what they had initially hoped would be a quick entry into the two countries’ defense alliance. Some officials are now worried that Turkey might want more in terms of concessions than it publicly states.

“There are concerns about the delay, which Turkey could still advocate for as it recognizes the leverage it currently has,” another European official said.

The lack of progress on the two countries’ late accession would hamper a high-profile rally in which leaders seek ways to strengthen the military defense alliance. In recent weeks, officials have expressed a desire to have the challenge in the rearview mirror until a meeting in Spain.

At one point, officials privately said they hoped the Madrid summit would serve as a welcome for the union’s two newest members. That would send a clear message to Russia about NATO’s growing capabilities.

“It is my intention to establish this before the NATO summit,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said of the process of Finland and Sweden joining NATO as he stood by Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this month. “At the same time, I know we need 30 allies to make progress to agree.”

Turkey met with officials from both countries and NATO last week, but there has been no progress since the meeting.

And meanwhile, with the ongoing war in Ukraine, Turkey has also been involved in some direct talks with Russia – which is ardently opposed to NATO expansion – on the need to extract Ukrainian grain from the country.

Kevin Liptak of CNN contributed to this report.

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