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NATO meets with Swedish PM on membership as Hungary and Turkey delay approval

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met with Swedish PM Ulf Kristersson Thursday on Sweden's application to join NATO. Hungary and Turkey are the last NATO nations to approve the NATO memberships for Sweden and Finland. Photo by Paul Hanna/UPI
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met with Swedish PM Ulf Kristersson Thursday on Sweden's application to join NATO. Hungary and Turkey are the last NATO nations to approve the NATO memberships for Sweden and Finland. Photo by Paul Hanna/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 20 (UPI) -- NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristerssont Thursday to discuss Sweden and Finland's applications to join the military alliance.

Stoltenberg told reporters during a press conference that the accession process for the two Nordic nations has so far been the fastest in NATO's modern history.

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Most NATO nations have completed their parliamentary procedures for approving NATO membership but there are two holdouts -- Hungary and Turkey.

Turkey agreed to a deal to admit Sweden and Finland in June but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has since threatened to block their entry if they fail to keep promises.

Stoltenberg welcomed the steps Sweden is taking to satisfy Turkey's concerns, including, "ending any restrictions on arms sales to Turkey, significantly enhancing cooperation on counter-terrorism, and prohibiting participation in terrorist organizations, including the PKK, and working through the Joint Implementation Mechanism on issues such as extradition and terrorist financing."

"I welcome your commitment to the Trilateral Memorandum signed by Turkey, Sweden and Finland to strengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism. We all agree on the importance of the memorandum," Stoltenberg told Kristersson. "And the need to address Turkey's legitimate security concerns.

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Kristersson, who was elected as Sweden's new prime minister on Monday reiterated the commitment to the deal.

"We are very committed to the agreement between Sweden and Finland and Turkey, and we're doing everything we can as soon as possible to fulfill all the obligations in it," Kristersson said. "Just wanted to stress the fight against terrorism is of fundamental importance in this agreement."

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin told Politico Thursday that she doesn't expect Hungary and Turkey to block Finland's NATO membership.

"I have spoken both with Prime Minister Orban and also President Erdogan about the situation and our knowledge is that there shouldn't be any problems when it comes to Finland and our application," Marin said.

Marin said she believes it's important for northern European security that both Sweden and Finland enter NATO together.

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