NATO: Turkey urges Sweden, Finland to take ‘concrete steps’

ISTANBUL – Sweden and Finland must now take “concrete steps” to ease Turkey’s security concerns to overcome Ankara’s opposition to its NATO membership, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Friday.

Foreign Minister Mevrut Cavusoglu said delegations from the two Nordic countries returned home after visits this week with documents detailing Turkey’s concerns, such as information on terrorist groups, and Ankara was awaiting their reply .

Sweden and Finland submitted written applications to join NATO last week. The move is one of Russia’s biggest geopolitical influences in the Ukraine war and could rewrite Europe’s security map.

Applications for membership of these countries require the support of all NATO countries, but Turkey, which has the alliance’s second-largest military, opposes them. It cited Kurdish militants allegedly supporting what Turkey considers terrorists and restrictions on arms sales to Turkey.

Cavusoglu said, “‘Anyway, we will in time convince Turkey that we are friends and allies’ is not correct.” He insisted that “these countries need to take concrete measures.”

“We understand the security concerns of Finland and Sweden, but … everyone also needs to understand the legitimate security concerns of Turkey,” he added. Turkey asked NATO to include the fight against terrorism in its “strategic concept”, the minister said.

Turkey’s top diplomat spoke at a joint news conference with his Polish and Romanian counterparts in Istanbul.

“There is no doubt that we really need Sweden and Finland to join the NATO alliance to make it stronger,” Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Law said. Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Orescu agreed, saying his Membership will “solidify collective defenses and our security”.

Turkey this week listed five “specific assurances” it asked Sweden to provide, including what it said were “to end political support for terrorism,” “to eliminate sources of terrorist financing” and “to stop providing arms support to Sweden.” . Ban the PKK and its affiliated Syrian Kurdish militias.

The demands also call for the lifting of arms sanctions against Turkey and global cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

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