Italy supports Finland-Sweden NATO bid while Turkey says no

Beijing, May 19 (IANS) Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi told journalists that Italy backs the bid by Finland and Sweden to join NATO.

Draghi met the press on Wednesday along with Finland’s visiting Prime Minister Sanna Marin at Palazzo Chigi, the seat of Italy’s government, Xinhua news agency reported.

He said that Italy was willing to speed up the two applicant countries’ accession procedures.

Draghi said that the application for membership in the military alliance was sparked by security worries in the wake of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Finland and Sweden, both members of the European Union (EU), formally applied for NATO membership on Wednesday. All 30 current NATO member states must approve the applications of new members.

Turkey, however, has said it opposed the membership of the two Nordic countries.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that Turkey will not approve Sweden’s NATO membership if the country does not extradite “terrorists” upon Turkish request.

Erdogan also told Sweden and Finland delegations not to bother coming to Ankara to convince it to approve their NATO bids.