ISTANBUL – Turkey’s foreign minister said on Friday that Sweden and Finland must now take “concrete steps” to alleviate their country’s security problems in order to overcome Ankara’s objections to their offer of NATO membership.
Delegations from the two Nordic countries have returned home with documents describing Turkey’s concerns, such as information on terrorist groups, after a visit this week and Ankara is waiting for their response, said Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
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.
The countries’ applications for membership require support from all NATO countries, but Turkey, which leads the second largest military in the alliance, is protesting against them. It has cited alleged support for Kurdish militants that Turkey is considering terrorists and restrictions on arms sales to Turkey.
Cavusoglu said that “an approach of” we will convince Turkey in time anyway, we are friends and allies “would not be correct.” He insisted that “these countries must take concrete steps.”
He added that “we understand the security problems of Finland and Sweden but … everyone must also understand Turkey’s legitimate security problems.” Turkey called for NATO to include the fight against terrorism in its “strategic concepts”, the minister said.
Turkey’s top diplomat spoke at a joint press conference with his Polish and Romanian counterparts in Istanbul.
Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said: “There is no doubt that we need Sweden’s and Finland’s accession to the NATO alliance to make it stronger.” Romania’s Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu agreed that their membership would “consolidate collective defense and our security.”
This week, Turkey listed five “concrete assurances” it demanded from Sweden, including what they said were “cessation of political support for terrorism”, “elimination of the source of terrorist financing” and “cessation of arms support” for Turkey. banned the PKK and a Syrian Kurdish militia group affiliated with it.
The demands also called for the lifting of arms sanctions against Turkey and global cooperation against terrorism.
Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine