WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Thursday said it was time for Turkey to ratify Finland and Sweden’s bids to join NATO, and bluntly said the alliance’s reluctant members should approve their membership quickly.
The State Department said Secretary of State Antony Blinken has reiterated firm support for Finland and Sweden in phone calls with their foreign ministers, saying the US attaches great importance to “remaining allies swiftly ratifying their accession.”
In nearly identical statements to the two calls, released just 13 minutes apart, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Blinken had “reaffirmed US support for Finland and Sweden joining NATO.”
“He has again expressed our firm belief that Finland and Sweden are ready to join the Alliance,” Price said of talks with Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom and Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto. “The United States is urging remaining allies to ratify their accession quickly. ”
The statements did not mention Turkey by name, but the calls came just a day after Blinken met with the foreign minister of Turkey, whose country is the most ardent NATO holdout against Finland and Sweden joining the alliance.
The two countries applied for NATO membership last year after being alarmed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Only two of the alliance’s 30 members – Hungary and Turkey – have yet to ratify their membership, although Hungary’s ratification is seen as a formality and is expected soon.
Turkey, meanwhile, has raised significant objections to the Nordic countries joining the alliance, citing its support for Kurdish groups, which Ankara sees as a terrorist threat. Turkey, in particular, has urged Sweden to do more to contain these Kurdish groups before agreeing to join NATO.