Turkey ready to block Sweden and Finland Nato entry for a year

Turkey ready to block Sweden and Finland Nato entry for a year

Turkey says it will delay Nato membership for Sweden and Finland for more than a year unless they end support for Kurdish groups.

Ankara says Sweden and Finland harbour members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey, the European Union and the US regard as a terrorist organisation.

A delay could leave Finland and Sweden in a potentially dangerous limbo before full membership gives collective protection under Nato’s Article 5.

Finland’s prime minister Sanna Marin said both applications could stall if the Turkish objections are not resolved before a Nato summit in Madrid on June 29.

Ankara also objects to the Nordic states’ 2019 ban on arms exports to Turkey due to Turkish military operations in Syria.

Turkey is trying to highlight Sweden’s support for Kurdish groups in northern Syria with links to the PKK and is planning a fringe meeting on the issue at this month’s Nato gathering.

“This is a matter of vital national interest and we are prepared to prevent their membership for as long as a year if necessary,” said Akif Çağatay Kılıç who chairs the Turkish parliamentary foreign affairs committee. “Turkey is the second-largest army in Nato and has been providing the drones that help Ukraine defend itself. We deserve greater respect.”

He asked what Sweden and Finland will contribute to Nato. The MP from Erdogan’s ruling party said: “They have been harbouring terrorist organisations that kill my people, disrespect my borders, pose an existential threat to my country. The only thing we demand is that there are no distinctions. A terrorist organisation is a terrorist organisation.”

In a move to placate Turkey, Sweden published a foreign policy paper stressing the need to fight terrorism and opening a door to resume arms export sales to Turkey. Sweden imposed its arms restrictions in 2019 when Turkey invaded northern Syria.

The policy paper said Sweden would “contribute to all of Nato’s security, including that of Turkey”. Tougher anti-terrorism legislation is scheduled to be enacted on 1 July which will give Sweden’s intelligence services greater latitude to monitor terror suspects’ communications.

Finland and Russia share a very lengthy border, which would prove a new strategic focal point for the defensive alliance. Picture credit: Pixabay

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