Delegations from Sweden and Finland in Turkey for NATO talks
The move represents one of the biggest geopolitical ramifications of Russia's war in Ukraine and could rewrite Europe's security map.
Turkey has said it opposes the countries' membership in the Western military alliance, citing grievances with Sweden's — and a to a lesser extent Finland's — perceived support of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and other entities that Turkey views as security threats.
The PKK, which is listed as a terror organisation by several of Turkey's allies, has waged a decades-long insurgency against Turkey, a conflict that has cost the lives of tens of thousands people.
Turkey's objections have dampened Stockholm's and Helsinki's hopes for joining NATO quickly amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine and put the trans-Atlantic alliance's credibility at stake. All 30 NATO members must agree on admitting new members.
Turkey this week listed five “concrete assurances” it was demanding from Sweden, including what it said was “termination of political support for terrorism”, an “elimination of the source of terrorism financing”, and the “cessation of arms support” to the banned PKK and a Syrian Kurdish militia group affiliated with it.
The demands also called for the lifting of arms sanctions against Turkey and global cooperation against terrorism.
Turkey said that it has requested the extradition of Kurdish militants and other suspects since 2017 but hasn't received a positive response from Stockholm.
The Turkish government claimed Sweden had decided to provide USD 376 million to support the Kurdish militants in 2023 and that it had provided them with military equipment, including anti-tank weapons and drones.
Sweden has denied providing any “financial assistance or military support” to Kurdish groups or entities in Syria.
“Cooperation in northeastern Syria is carried out primarily through the United Nations and international organizations,” she said.
“Sweden doesn't provide targeted support to Syrian Kurds or to the political or military structures in northeastern Syria, but the population in these areas is, of course, taking part in these aid projects.” Speaking on Tuesday before a meeting of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Russia had left Sweden and Finland “no choice” but to join NATO.
She said Germany would support the two countries' membership, calling it “a real gain” for the military alliance.
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