July 07
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Turkey has blocked NATO's initial decision to process Finland and Sweden's requests to join the alliance, casting doubt on the two Scandinavian countries' hopes for quick accession, the FT reported.

NATO ambassadors met Wednesday to begin membership talks on the same day that Finland and Sweden submitted their applications, but Ankara's opposition prevented talks from starting, the Gazette reported, citing sources.

The postponement raises doubts that NATO will be able to approve the first phase of Finland and Sweden's applications within a week or two, as Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has indicated.

All 30 existing NATO members must ratify the applications from Finland and Sweden, but the process only begins after the defense alliance issues an accession protocol and formally invites the two countries to join.

NATO declined to comment, echoing Stoltenberg's comments that "the security interests of all Allies have to be taken into account and we are determined to work through all issues and reach rapid conclusions."

Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Western allies for failing to respect Ankara's "sensitivity" to terrorism and accused new NATO candidates of refusing to extradite 30 people accused of terrorism in his country. "You don't extradite terrorists, but you want to join NATO. We cannot say yes to a security organization that is devoid of security."

Erdogan, who has the power to veto them joining NATO, said NATO members should "understand, respect and support" Turkey's sensitivity on these issues. "None of our allies have shown the respect we expected."

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