Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Turkey calls for ‘concrete steps’ to support Nordics’ NATO bids

ANKARA, Turkey ( Associated Press) — A senior Turkish official insisted after talks with Swedish and Finnish officials on Wednesday that Turkey would not agree to the two Nordic countries joining NATO until Ankara’s objections were met. No specific steps are taken to remove it.

“We have made it clear that the process will not proceed if Turkey’s security concerns are not met with concrete steps within a certain time frame,” Ibrahim Kalin said after talks in Ankara that lasted nearly five hours.

Kalin is a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a senior aide to the president.

Sweden and Finland submitted their written applications to join NATO last week, representing one of the biggest geopolitical implications of Russia’s war in Ukraine that could rewrite Europe’s security map.

Turkey has said it opposes the countries’ membership in the Western Military Alliance, citing complaints with Sweden – and to a lesser extent – with Finland’s alleged support of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and other entities as Turkish security threats. sees as.

The PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by many of Turkey’s allies, has waged a decades-long insurgency against Turkey, a conflict that has cost thousands of lives.

The Turkish government also accused Finland and Sweden of imposing arms export restrictions on Turkey and refusing to extradite suspected “terrorists”.

Turkey’s objections to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have undermined Stockholm and Helsinki’s hopes of joining NATO and put the credibility of the trans-Atlantic alliance at stake. All 30 NATO members must agree to accept the new members.

Swedish and Finnish delegations called on Kalin and Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal. Turkish officials said the Swedish delegation was led by Secretary of State Oscar Steinström, while the Finnish delegation was led by Under-Secretary of the Foreign Ministry, Jukka Salovara.

Kalin said Turkey’s proposal to remove arms export limits was met with a “positive attitude” by Swedish and Finnish delegations.

He said talks would continue after the Nordic governments responded to Turkey’s demands.

Turkey also expects to extradite 28 “terrorism” suspects from Sweden and 12 from Finland, Kalin said, adding that there was “no legal or judicial basis” for not extraditing them. Turkish state media earlier said Turkey has sought the extradition of 33 suspects from both countries.

Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersen said after a meeting with European Council President Charles Michel in Stockholm that her country wanted to “clarify” the claims that have been floating around during discussions with Turkey.

“We don’t send money or weapons to terrorist organizations,” Anderson said.

During a news conference with the Estonian prime minister later on Wednesday, Andersen said that “in these times, it is important to strengthen our security.”

He said Sweden is having “constructive dialogue” with Turkey and Stockholm is “seeing to resolve issues and misunderstandings and questions.”

Michel, who is scheduled to fly from Stockholm to Helsinki, said it was “an important moment for Sweden” and “we fully support your choice.”

Turkey this week listed five “concrete assurances” it was seeking from Sweden, which it said would call for an “end of political support for terrorism”, “elimination of the source of terrorism financing” and “an end to arms support”. termination” is included. The banned PKK and a Syrian Kurdish militia group affiliated with it.

The demands also called for the lifting of the arms embargo against Turkey and global cooperation against terrorism.

Turkey said it has requested the extradition of Kurdish terrorists and other suspects since 2017, but has not received a positive response from Stockholm. The Turkish government claimed that Sweden had decided to provide $376 million to support Kurdish militants in 2023 and that it had provided them with military equipment, including anti-tank weapons and drones.

Finland’s news agency STT said on Wednesday, citing data from the Finnish Ministry of Justice, that Finland has received nine extradition requests from Turkey in recent three years. Two people were extradited while six requests were rejected. In another case, the decision was pending.

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

She said Germany would support membership of both countries, calling it a “real benefit” to the military alliance.

Andrew Wilkes in Istanbul, Jan M. in Copenhagen, Denmark. Olsen and Jari Tanner in Helsinki contributed to this report.

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