Swedish and Finnish delegations in Turkey for NATO talks


Delegations from Sweden and Finland were scheduled to meet with top Turkish officials in Ankara on Wednesday to overcome Turkey’s opposition to the historic NATO alliance proposal.

Sweden and Finland last week submitted applications for NATO membership that could rewrite Europe’s security map, one of the biggest geopolitical ramifications of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Turkey said it opposes the two Nordic countries joining the military alliance, citing complaints perceived by Sweden and Finland as support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and other groups that Turkey considers security. Threat. They also accuse the two of imposing arms export restrictions on Turkey and refusing extradition to suspected “terrorists”.

Turkey’s opposition undermines Stockholm and Helsinki’s hopes of quickly joining NATO as Russia invades Ukraine and jeopardizes the credibility of the transatlantic alliance. All 30 NATO members must agree to accept the new member states.

The Swedish and Finnish delegations, along with Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal, are poised to address the Turkish complaint. The Swedish delegation will be led by Secretary of State Oscar Stenström, while Deputy Foreign Minister Jukka Salovaara will lead the Finnish delegation, Turkish officials said.

Registered as a terrorist organization by several Turkish allies, the PKK has rebels for decades against Turkey, a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Turkey this week called for five specific guarantees from Sweden: ‘stop political support for terrorism’, ‘remove sources of financing for terrorism’ and ‘stop support for weapons’. Banned the PKK and its associated Syrian Kurdish militia groups. It also called for the lifting of arms sanctions against Turkey and international cooperation on terrorism.

Turkey has requested extradition of Kurdish rebels and other suspects since 2017, but has not received a positive response from Stockholm. Among other things, Ankara claims that Sweden has decided to provide $376 million to support Kurdish rebels in 2023 and has provided military equipment, including anti-tank weapons and drones.

Sweden has denied providing “financial or military assistance” to Kurdish groups or groups in Syria.

Foreign Minister Anne Linde told Aftonbladet newspaper that “Sweden is a major humanitarian donor to the Syrian crisis by distributing humanitarian workers worldwide.”

“Cooperation in northeastern Syria is mainly through the United Nations and international organizations,” she said. “Sweden does not provide any assistance to the Syrian Kurds or to any political or military structure in northeastern Syria, but the population of the region as well as the participating in these assistance projects.”

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