Turkey demands written agreement to allow Finland, Swedish NATO bids

Ankara: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has demanded a “written agreement” from Finland and Sweden on steps to end their “support for terrorism” if they want to join the NATO.

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Cavusoglu’s remarks on Tuesday came a day before Turkey will hold consultations with the two Nordic countries in Ankara on their NATO bids, Xinhua news agency reported.

“We expect them to end support for terrorism and to lift defence restrictions,” Turkey’s NTV broadcaster quoted the Minister as telling reporters on his flight to Palestine and Israel.

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“They said: ‘We can take concrete steps.’ We want a written agreement,” the Turkish Minister said, adding Ankara demands “assurances” in a signed agreement.

A four-way meeting can be held by the three countries with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in this regard, said Cavusoglu.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said the Turkish Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin and Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal will meet with Finnish and Swedish officials on Wednesday.

Turkey has so far been the only NATO member which objects to the NATO bids by Sweden and Finland, citing the two countries’ support to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Syrian branch of PKK.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, has been rebelling against the Turkish government for more than three decades.

Turkey also accuses the two countries of harbouring members of the Gulen Movement which Ankara says is behind a failed military coup attempt in 2016.

Moreover, Ankara demands Sweden and Finland end their arms exports bans imposed following the country’s cross-border military operation into northeast Syria in 2019.

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