French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday asked his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to “respect the sovereign choice” of Finland and Sweden to join NATO.
He hoped to prevent Ankara from vetoing their demands to join the transatlantic defense pact.
Turkey warned on Wednesday that Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership process would only move forward if they addressed Ankara’s security concerns, a reference to their supposed sympathy for militant groups Kurds.
“The president stressed the need to respect the sovereign choice of these two countries, which emerged from a democratic process and in response to changes in their security environment,” Macron’s office said after a phone call with Erdogan.
“He said he hoped discussions would continue to find a solution quickly,” his office added.
Stockholm and Helsinki submitted their bids to join NATO last week, reversing decades of military non-alignment, after political and public support for membership skyrocketed after Ukraine invaded Ukraine. Russia.
But Turkey, a member of NATO, throws a spoke in the wheels because any membership must be approved unanimously by all members of the alliance.
Ankara notably accuses Stockholm of serving as a refuge for the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and its Western allies.
Erdogan is also considering a new military operation in northern Syria aimed at crushing Syrian Kurdish fighters who have aided the US-led campaign against the Islamic State group.
Such an incursion risks creating new tensions between Ankara and other NATO members, with the United States warning this week that its soldiers could be endangered.
During the call between Erdogan and Macron, the two leaders agreed to continue efforts to revive Ukrainian grain exports now that Russian forces control most of the country’s ports, in order to avoid food shortages that threaten several countries in development.
But the Kremlin on Monday denied any responsibility for the halt in grain deliveries and accused Western countries of blocking cargo ships from leaving Ukrainian ports.