Delegations from Sweden and Finland in Turkey for talks with NATO

Delegations from Sweden and Finland are expected to hold talks in Ankara with senior officials in an effort to overcome Turkey’s objections to offers to join the NATO alliance. their history.

Sweden and Finland applied to join Nato last week in a move that marks one of the biggest geopolitical ramifications in Russia’s war in Ukraine – and could rewrite the country’s security map. Europe.

But Turkey immediately said it was opposed to the two Nordic countries becoming members of a military alliance, citing displeasure with Sweden – and to a lesser extent Finland – seeing support. support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and other entities that Turkey considers a security threat.

It also accused the two sides of imposing arms export restrictions on Turkey and refusing to extradite suspected “terrorists”.

Turkey’s opposition has dented Stockholm and Helsinki’s hopes of quick NATO membership amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and put the credibility of the transatlantic alliance at risk.

All 30 Nato members must agree to admit new members.

The delegations of Sweden and Finland are ready to address Turkey’s grievances with Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal.

Turkish officials said the Swedish delegation would be led by Foreign Minister Oscar Stenstrom while Jukka Salovaara, the deputy foreign minister, would lead the Finnish delegation.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by some of Turkey’s allies, has waged a decades-long insurgency against Turkey, a conflict that has claimed dozens of lives. thousand people.

Speaking on Tuesday ahead of a meeting of the Council of Baltic Sea States, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Russia had left Sweden and Finland had “no choice” but to join NATO.

She said Germany would support the two countries’ membership, calling it “a real boon” to the military alliance.

This week, Turkey listed five “specific guarantees” it was demanding from Sweden, including what it said were “end political support for terrorism”, “removal of sources”. sponsoring terrorism” and “stop supporting arms” for banning the PKK and a Syrian Kurdish militia group affiliated with it.

The requests also call for the lifting of arms sanctions against Turkey and for global cooperation against terrorism.

Turkey says it has been requesting the extradition of Kurdish fighters 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 (£299 million) to support the Kurdish fighters by 2023 and that it has provided them with military equipment, including anti-tank weapons and drones.

Sweden has denied it provides any “financial or military assistance” to Kurdish groups or entities in Syria.

Foreign Minister Ann Linde told Aftonbladet: “Sweden is a major humanitarian donor to the Syrian crisis through its global allocation to humanitarian organisations.

“Cooperation in northeastern Syria is done mainly through the United Nations and international organizations,” she said.

“Sweden does not provide targeted support to the Syrian Kurds or to political or military structures in northeastern Syria, but the populations in these areas are of course involved in these aid projects. .”

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