A last minute agreement has been reached between Turkey, Sweden and Finland to allow the two Nordic countries to join the Nato alliance.
The agreement came on the eve of the Nato summit in Madrid.
Nato said the trilateral deal was reached at a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.
Nato’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said he was pleased to announce the agreement, which paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join. The memorandum addresses Turkey’s concerns, Stoltenberg said, including around arms export and the fight against terrorism.
Historically the two Nordic countries declined to seek Nato membership, partly because of mixed public opinion and caution around their security relationship with Russia.
But this all changed when Russia attacked Ukraine unprovoked in February, prompting both countries to ask to join the military alliance.
It now means that Swedish and Finnish leaders can attend the Nato summit being held this week as invitees, meaning their countries are officially on a firm path to full membership. Their membership is subject only to ratification by member states, but this is considered a technical step.
Turkey previously said it would block Sweden and FInland’s applications unless it received assurances the two countries were willing to address what it regards as support for Kurdish groups that Turkey designates as terrorist groups.
Nato operates on a consensus, requiring all 30 countries to unanimously support another country joining. When Turkey looked like it could veto the applications, it gave Ankara leverage to seek demands from the countries to join.
The text of the memorandum signed by Turkey, Finland and Sweden says the two nordic countries will extend full support to Turkey in matters of national security.