The two Nordic nations are trying to overcome Turkey’s objections to their applications to join the military alliance.
Senior officials from Sweden and Finland have met with Turkish counterparts in Ankara in an attempt to overcome Turkey’s objections to the Nordic nations’ applications to join NATO.
Sweden and Finland submitted their written applications to join NATO last week. The move represents one of the biggest geopolitical consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine and could rewrite Europe’s security map.
Turkey has said it opposes its membership of the Western military alliance, citing complaints about Sweden’s – and to a lesser extent Finland’s – perceived support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and other entities that Turkey sees as a security threat.
Listed as a “terrorist organization” by several of Turkey’s allies, the PKK has waged a decades-long struggle against Turkey, a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people.
The Turkish government also accuses Finland and Sweden of imposing restrictions on arms exports to Turkey and refusing to extradite suspected “terrorists”.
Turkey’s objections have dampened Stockholm and Helsinki’s hopes of joining NATO quickly in the midst of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and jeopardizing the credibility of the Transatlantic Alliance. All 30 NATO members must agree to bring in new members.
Ankara is talking
The Swedish and Finnish delegations met on Wednesday with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, and Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal.
The Swedish delegation was led by State Secretary Oscar Stenström, while Jukka Salovaara, the Foreign Minister’s deputy secretary, led the Finnish delegation, Turkish officials have said.
This week, Turkey listed five “concrete assurances” it demanded from Sweden, including what they said were “termination of political support for terrorism”, an “elimination of the source of terrorist financing” and “cessation of arms support” to Turkey. banned the PKK and a Syrian Kurdish armed group affiliated with it.
The demands also called for the lifting of arms sanctions against Turkey and global cooperation against terrorism.
Turkey said it had requested the extradition of Kurdish fighters and other suspects since 2017 but had not received a positive response from Stockholm.
The Turkish government claimed that Sweden had decided to provide $ 376 million to support the Kurdish fighters in 2023 and that they had provided them with military equipment, including anti-tank weapons and drones.
Sweden has refused to provide any “financial assistance or military support” to Kurdish groups or units in Syria.
– Sweden is a major humanitarian donor to the Syrian crisis through global grants to humanitarian actors, says Foreign Minister Ann Linde to the newspaper Aftonbladet.
“Cooperation in northeastern Syria is carried out primarily through the United Nations and international organizations,” she said. “Sweden does not provide targeted support to Syrian Kurds or to the political or military structures in northeastern Syria, but the people in these areas are naturally participating in these aid projects.”
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock spoke on Tuesday ahead of a meeting with the Baltic States Council, saying that Russia has left Sweden and Finland “no choice” but to join NATO.
She said Germany would support the two countries’ membership, calling it a “real gain” for the military alliance.