Macron urges Erdoğan to respect Finland, Sweden’s ‘sovereign choice’ on NATO

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday called on his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Finland and Sweden’s decision to join NATO, France 24 news network reported.

NATO member Turkey in an expected move last week objected to the Nordic nations’ bids to join NATO. The countries’ potential membership in the alliance comes with geopolitical ramifications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and could rewrite Europe’s security map. All 30 NATO members must agree on admitting new members. 

Macron highlighted the need to respect “the sovereign choice of these two countries, which emerged from a democratic process and in reaction to the changes in their security environment," France 24 reported, citing the French president’s telephone call with Erdoğan.

"He said he hoped the discussions would continue to find a solution quickly," his office said. 

Swedish and Finnish officials arrived in Ankara for negotiations on their NATO membership on Wednesday after Turkey said it would block their accession unless they dropped support for Kurdish militant groups and handed over scores of terrorism suspects.

Turkey accuses the two countries -- particularly Sweden -- of supporting and harbouring members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its affiliate in Syria, the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG). The PKK, which has fought a four-decade war for Kurdish autonomy from Turkey, is listed as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union, while the YPG is not.

This week, Turkey demanded five “concrete assurances” from Sweden, including the ending of political support for terrorism, cessation of arms support for the PKK and YPG, and the elimination of sources of terrorism financing.

During the call between Erdoğan and Macron, the two leaders agreed to continue efforts to restart Ukraine grain exports after Russian forces have taken control most of the country's ports, in order to avoid food shortages that threaten several developing countries, France 24 said.

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