Turkey is in talks with the Nordic countries in their bid to join NATO membership. Finland and Sweden recently expressed their intention to join the transatlantic grouping NATO following the emerging threats from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
All 30 member nations welcomed this step as a success towards the strengthening of the NATO alliance, except Turkey, who was opposed to this proposal. Ankara wants a concrete solution to its concerns with Finland and Sweden before joining the alliance.
What worries Turkey?
Finland and Sweden are said to have long supported the PKK and the affiliated Syrian People’s Protection Units (YPG) politically and financially, which Turkey and most of the western allies list as terrorist organizations, but many countries still back it. Turkey wants an end to arms supplies to Kurdish fighters on the southern border. In addition, Turkey demands putting an end to the arms embargo being imposed on Turkey by these two nations after Ankara attacks the YPG-dominated forces (SDF) in northern Syria in 2019.
Ankara strongly believes that once the two countries start working on relaxation of these security concerns, the faster their procedure of admission to NATO membership will be initiated.
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Progress in talks so far
On Monday, the three countries met in Brussels to come up with a solution to the problems. Finland and Sweden assured Turkey they would work on the potential threats. However, the three countries continued negotiating at different levels.
On the one hand, Sweden claimed that it is working on the strict codification of ‘anti-terrorism’ laws that will be implemented from July. On the other hand, Finland insisted on diplomatic talks to resolve the issues.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on the side-lines of the meeting in Brussel was quoted saying “Constructive conversation with President @RTErdogan ahead of the #NATOsummit. We discussed the importance of addressing #Türkiye’s legitimate security concerns on the fight against terrorism & making progress in the #NATO accession process for #Finland & #Sweden”.
To acquire a full membership the two nations, need unanimous approval of all 30 member countries. Turkey has been a member of the NATO alliance for 70 years and strategically shares an important position in the alliance.
NATO members are willing to hold their next meeting on 30th June and were expecting the Nordic countries to join the meeting, but Ankara warns not to consider this meeting as a deadline unless the demands are met.