The United States is hoping this week’s NATO summit in Madrid, Spain will “boost” Finland and Sweden’s candidacies to join the North Atlantic alliance as the two nations face pushback from Turkey.
Amid floating concerns, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Monday that the main goal is to “create as much positive momentum” as possible.
“I’m not sitting here today suggesting that all issues will be resolved by Madrid, but we’re going to try and resolve as many of them as possible so that Madrid gives a boost to their candidacies, even if there remains some concerns on the part of Turkey that need to be worked out,” Sullivan said at the G7 summit in Germany.
Other US and European officials have echoed that warning that Turkey’s concerns will likely not be settled before this week’s summit, with at least one saying the nation usually waits until “the last possible moment” to offer any concessions.
“My best projection based on what I’ve seen is that they will run this to the wire at Madrid. They also always prefer if they’re going to make concessions to do it at the leader level, they believe that enhances that status,” one European official told CNN. “It is Turkey’s standard operating procedure not to give concessions till the last possible moment. And that last possible moment is usually defined as a bilateral with the US president, followed by a leaders meeting.”
Finland and Sweden formally applied to join the North Atlantic Alliance in May, amid the ongoing brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine. The two countries must gain unanimous support from all 30 nations to join.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan quickly came out against their candidacies, saying the two nations don’t take a hard enough stance against “terrorists,” referring to Kurdish activists.
“Neither country has an open, clear stance against terrorist organizations,” Erdoğan said in May adding, “Are they coming to try and convince us? Sorry don’t wear yourselves out.”
At the time, President Biden brushed off the Turkish concerns telling reporters, “I think we’re gonna be okay.”
It remains unclear if Biden intends to meet with Erdoğan in Madrid regarding Sweden and Finland’s candidacies, however Sullivan indicated “they may very well have the opportunity to see one another.”
“The president is following this very closely,” Sullivan added. “His team is working it with the Finns, Swedes, and Turks, and I’m on the phone daily with my counterparts from all three countries.”
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has been looking to have all concerns resolved before the Madrid meetings.
“My intention is to have this in place before the NATO summit,” Stoltenberg said earlier this month. “At the same time, I know that to make progress we need 30 Allies to agree.”
Biden is scheduled to travel to Madrid for the summit on Tuesday.