'Finland, Sweden's NATO bids won't progress unless Turkey's concerns addressed'

International |  IANS  | Published : Thu, May 26, 2022, 05:15 PM

Ankara, May 26 (IANS) Turkey has set out conditions for the Sweden and Finland to earn its support over the two Nordic countries' bids to join NATO, a presidential spokesperson in Ankara said.

Ibrahim Kalin, who also participated in Turkey's talks with the two European countries, said Sweden and Finland's procedure to join the military alliance will not move forward if concrete steps are not taken to address Ankara's concerns, reports Xinhua news agency.

Officials from Sweden and Finland met their Turkish counterparts in Ankara on Wednesday, in an attempt to resolve disputes with Turkey, which opposes their NATO membership bids.

"Our expectations were about taking concrete steps to address the presence of terrorist organisations... We've conveyed the information and documents on this matter," Kalin told a news conference after the meeting.

"We stated that this procedure would not be possible until Turkey's security concerns were addressed," he said, adding Finnish and Swedish officials had made notes and will submit them to their governments.

Turkey will continue consultations with both Finland and Sweden until the two countries respond to its concerns, according to Kalin.

Sweden and Finland have formally submitted their NATO membership applications.

However, Turkey is the only NATO member that objected to their bids so far, accusing the two countries of supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and Syria's Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and the European Union, has been rebelling against the Turkish government for more than three decades, and Ankara sees the YPG as the Syrian branch of the PKK.

Turkey also accused the two Nordic countries of harbouring members of the Gulen Movement, which Ankara claims is responsible for the failed 2016 military coup attempt.

"We sent 28 extradition requests to Sweden and 17 to Finland, unfortunately we did not receive any response," Kalin said, referring to the members of these groups.

Ankara also expected the sanctions against Turkey's defence industry be lifted, he said, adding it has seen a positive development on the issue.

Sweden and Finland restricted defence industry exports to Turkey following the country's cross-border operation into northeast Syria in 2019.








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