STOCKHOLM: The Swedish agency tasked with controlling the export of military equipment said on Friday it had approved military exports to Turkey, after blocking them in 2019.
Ankara requested a lifting of the restrictions after Sweden applied to join NATO in mid-May, which still needs ratification from Turkey.
– The government has made the assessment that Swedish membership in NATO is the best way to protect the security of Sweden and the Swedish people, says the Inspectorate for Strategic Products in a statement.
The ISP decided to block military exports to Turkey in 2019, following a Turkish military offensive in northeastern Syria.
“Sweden’s application for NATO membership greatly strengthens the defense and security policy arguments for approving the export of military equipment to other member states, including Turkey,” the authority said.
The ISP said it had approved exports related to “electronic equipment”, “software” and “technical assistance” to Turkey in the third quarter.
So far, 28 of NATO’s 30 member states have ratified Sweden’s and Finland’s accession. Only Hungary and Turkey remain, but new members of the alliance require unanimous approval.
Stockholm and Helsinki, which both reversed decades of non-alignment when they applied for membership after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, had expected the application process to be swift, having been assured they would be welcomed “with open arms”.
But objections from Ankara, which accuses Finland and Sweden of providing sanctuary to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) listed as a “terrorist” group by Turkey and its Western allies, surprised them.
Even after Sweden and Finland were formally invited, Ankara has insisted it can still block entry into the Western alliance if it believes the Nordic countries are not keeping their promises. – AFP