Turkey threatened to delay the entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO for a year

Akif Çağatay Kılıç, parliament’s foreign affairs commissioner, said the country was prepared to block the Nordics’ entry into NATO until their demands were met.

Turkey said it is ready to delay Sweden and Finland’s entry into NATO for more than a year, a maneuver with which he hopes to receive from the Nordic countries satisfactory guarantees that they are willing to address support for Kurdish groups that he considers terrorist organizations.

The issue threatens to derail a vital NATO summit that is due to start in Madrid on June 29.

Turkey accuses Sweden and Finland of harbor suspected members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and also opposes its 2019 decisions to ban arms exports to Ankara due to Turkey’s military operations in Syria.

The Turkish diplomatic offensive was made public to signal Swedish support for Kurdish groups in northern Siringa that are linked to the PKK, which is designated as a terrorist organization in the EU, US and Turkey, and plans to organize a fringe meeting on the issue at the NATO summit.

“This is a matter of vital national interest, and we are prepared to prevent them from joining for up to a year if necessary,” said Akif Çağatay Kılıç, a deputy and chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as well as a foreign affairs commissioner in parliament.

“Turkey is the second largest army in NATO and has been providing the drones that help Ukraine defend itself. We deserve more respect.” he added.

He said that Turkey respected its own duties and responsibilities to the alliance.

“What are they (Sweden and Finland) going to do? They have been harboring terrorist organizations that kill my people, do not respect my borders, pose an existential threat to my country. The only thing we demand is that there be no distinctions. A terrorist organization is a terrorist organization.” the parliamentarian emphasized.

Akif Çağatay Kılıç denied that the crisis was an attempt to fan nationalist flames before a difficult election and said that non-Kurdish opposition parties supported the position of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He also said that there was no attempt to negotiate with the United States on arms deals.

Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO, andhe praised Swedish efforts to address Turkey’s concerns, but appears to have acknowledged that plans for accelerated membership may now be winding down.

On June 29 in Madrid, the NATO summit will meet and the possible entry of Sweden and Finland will be studied, among other issues

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson will attend the Madrid summit, which may end up being a show of division as well as long-term strategic thinking and enlargement. Western officials privately admit that Germany, France and the US are unwilling for Ukraine to dominate the summit, although it is difficult to imagine that NATO support for Kyiv is not the central issue.

On Friday, Sweden tried to appease Turkey by publishing a foreign policy document that highlighted the need to fight terrorism and paved the way for Sweden to resume arms export sales to Turkey.. Sweden imposed restrictions on arms sales in 2019 following Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria. Britain has already lifted the sales ban.

The policy document said that Sweden “it would contribute to the entire security of NATO, including that of Turkey.” A stricter anti-terrorism law, which will take effect on July 1, gives Swedish intelligence services greater freedom to monitor the communications of suspected terrorist sympathizers.

Although Turkish demands may vary, officials have said they want to see specific Kurdish activists deported to Turkey, as well as the firing of Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist for a 2011 meeting with the PKK, which has been a designated terrorist organization in Sweden since 1984.

Ankara would like the two countries to sever ties with the US-backed autonomous Syrian Kurdish administration, which Turkey says has a leadership synonymous with the PKK.

Andersson’s room for maneuver is limited, as he is not going to transform Swedish extradition laws simply to satisfy threats from the Turkish president, and last week he had to enlist the support of a Swedish Kurdish parliamentarian and former peshmerga fighter, Amineh Kakabaveh, to survive a narrow vote of confidence. The parliamentarian says she received unspecified guarantees in exchange for her vote.

Sweden hosts 100,000 Kurdish refugees.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaking at a ceremony in Izmit May 23, 2022. Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaking at a ceremony in Izmit May 23, 2022. Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS (TURKEY’S PRESIDENTIAL PRESS OFFI/)

Turkish diplomats resent suggestions that he did not object to Swedish membership sooner or that he is being hypocritical on the Kurdish issue because of his support for extremist groups elsewhere in the Middle East.

Finland has fewer problems with Turkey, but has said it is unlikely to go ahead with a membership application without Sweden.

Finnish media reported that the country received 10 Turkey-related extradition requests between 2019 and 2022. It granted two of those requests and is processing seven.

While Britain has strong diplomatic ties with Turkey, it has also provided the two Nordic countries with security guarantees during the potentially dangerous gray period between their application to join NATO and the time when full membership affords them defense protection. alliance group.

In an effort to find a solution, UK Europe Minister James Cleverly is in Turkey this week to meet ministers. Angus Lapsley, director of Euro-Atlantic security at the Foreign Office, said the UK was working around the clock to try to resolve the dispute.

Stoltenberg has said that the Madrid summit was never a deadline.


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