Latvia and Turkey discuss Sweden and Finland's NATO membership

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On May 23, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs, had a telephone call with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, for a discussion on the current geopolitical situation and the issue of NATO enlargement, according to a release from the Latvian MFA.

"In view of the current security situation in NATO’s eastern flank, Edgars Rinkēvičs asked Turkey to support, at the upcoming NATO Summit in Madrid, the establishment of permanent defence presence (brigade size) in Latvia," said the statement.

With Turkey currently threatening to block Sweden and Finland's NATO membership bids, that too was on the agenda.

"Edgars Rinkēvičs stated that the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO meant a direct and significant improvement to security in the Baltic States, Northern Europe, and the Alliance as a whole. Finland and Sweden are the closest and the most dependable partners to NATO, and they have a significant role to play in ensuring stability in the Baltic region," the statement said. 

"At the same time, the Latvian Foreign Minister expressed understanding of Turkey’s legitimate security interests. The Minister voiced hope that a solution acceptable to all the parties would be found during the talks, which would enable Finland and Sweden to join NATO in the near future," it added.

Rinkēvičs also welcomed Turkey’s decision to extend the duration of legitimate visa-free stay for the citizens of Latvia in the Republic of Turkey to 90 days. As from this 19 May, the Latvian citizens have the right to stay in Turkey for up to 90 days (including without interruption) within any 180-day period for the purposes of tourism. 


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