Turkey demands Finland and Sweden end ‘support’ for Kurdish rebels before joining Nato
Turkey has condemned alleged support from Sweden and Finland for the PKK Kurdish rebel group, which Ankara designates as a “terrorist” organisation.
Nato’s deputy secretary-general, Mircea Geoana, however, said after talks that he is confident Turkish concerns can be addressed.
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party has been engaged in an insurgency since 1984. Turkey’s allegations could stifle attempts to allow Sweden and Finland to join Nato.
“The problem is that these two countries are openly supporting and engaging with PKK and YPG [People’s Protection Units],” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in Berlin before a Nato summit.
Turkey considers the YPG, a US-backed Kurdish militia in Syria, a terrorist group and a PKK affiliate.
“These are terrorist organisations that have been attacking our troops every day,” he said.
“Therefore, it is unacceptable and outrageous that our friends and allies are supporting this terrorist organisation.”
It is unclear if discussions between Cavusoglu and his Nato, Finnish and Swedish counterparts yielded progress.
All 30 Nato members must approve the applications and joining can take several months before the Nordic states are covered by the pact’s collective security guarantee.
Canada, the US, Germany and the UK all spoke out in favour of Sweden and Finland’s membership.
Geoana told the media in Berlin: “Turkey is an important ally and expressed concerns that are addressed between friends and allies.
“I am confident if these countries decide to seek membership in Nato we will be able to welcome them, to find all conditions for consensus to be met,” he said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said the PKK was fundraising and recruiting in Europe and especially in Sweden.
“If they [Finland and Sweden] have a public concerned about their own national security, we have a public that is equally concerned about our own security,” he said.
Turkey has the second-largest military in Nato and joined in 1952.
Turkey condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it has helped supply weapons to Ukraine, including the vital Bayraktar drones which have been pivotal to the conflict, but has opposed sanctions on Russia. Turkey has also closed the Dardanelles to Russian naval vessels under a 1937 treaty.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba was expected to join Sunday’s talks to detail developments in the war and discuss Nato support.
The YPG. Picture credit: Wikimedia