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Finland and Sweden: Turkey makes NATO admission conditional

Finland and Sweden
Turkey makes NATO membership conditional

According to its own statements, Turkey does not want to stand in the way of Finland and Sweden being admitted to NATO. However, only under one condition: Before joining, she wants to hold talks about how the countries deal with the Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK. There will be a meeting tonight.

Turkey is open to Finland and Sweden joining NATO, but is calling for negotiations with both countries on how to deal with the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK. “We are not closing the door. But we are fundamentally addressing this issue (PKK) as a matter of Turkey’s national security,” said Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and also his top foreign policy adviser.

As announced by Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavesto, he wants to meet his Turkish counterpart later in the evening to clear up any inconsistencies about NATO membership. “I’m sure we’ll find a solution,” said Haavesto before unofficial consultations with NATO heads of department in Berlin.

Erdogan said on Friday that he could not agree to NATO membership for Sweden and Finland because these countries are home to many terrorist organizations. All NATO members would have to agree to the admission of the two countries, including Turkey. Turkey wants negotiations with Finland and Sweden, Kalin said. The PKK, classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, is raising funds and recruiting in Europe. Their presence is particularly strong in Sweden. What has to be done is clear: “You have to stop allowing PKK representations, activities, organizations, individuals and other types of presence (…) in these countries.”

Turkey has for years criticized Sweden and other European countries for their handling of organizations that Turkey classifies as terrorist, including followers of US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen. The road to NATO membership is always a process, Kalin said. “We’ll see how things develop.” However, the PKK issue was the first point that all allies and the Swedish authorities wanted to be made aware of. Of course, Turkey wants to discuss and negotiate this with its Swedish partners.

Sweden and Finland are not yet members of the western defense alliance NATO, founded in 1949. They also did not take this step so as not to upset their big neighbor Russia. However, the situation changed after Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Finland has already spoken out in favor of joining NATO. Sweden will probably follow suit on Monday. Both have long-standing close ties to NATO and have regularly taken part in maneuvers and high-level meetings. As non-members, however, they do not have the security guarantee under Article Five, which defines an attack on a NATO member as an attack on all alliance partners and thus promises support.

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