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Sweden and Finland on the Rocks: Turkey Reveals Its List of Demands to NATO


Just as the NATO nations were celebrating about the prospect of enlarging their project to encircle Russia, a potential spanner has been thrown into the works by one of its largest members, Turkey.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s has decided to press ahead with his opposition to Sweden and Finland’s bids to join NATO, citing Sweden and Finland as “incubators” for various terrorist groups, in particular the Kurdish militant and separatists, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and their affiliate, the YPG.

It is also believed that Turkey could push for Sweden to extradite members of the PKK.

The FT reports some additional concerns:

Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has indicated he wants Sweden and Finland to lift arms embargoes that they, along with some other countries, imposed on Turkey in 2019 when Erdoğan ordered his military to attack PKK-linked Kurdish militias in Syria.

Turkish officials are also angry that top Swedish officials, including the defence minister, have held discussions with senior figures from a Syrian Kurdish militia that has close links to the PKK. But Sweden’s Social Democrat government will find it hard to compromise as it is facing tough parliamentary elections in September and has already offended the left of its party and the ex-communists by signing up to Nato. The country has a significant Kurdish diaspora and there is widespread sympathy for the Kurdish cause.

“I worry that there isn’t all that much wiggle room,” said Paul Levin, director of Stockholm University’s Institute for Turkish Studies. “Sweden has [long] been a country that has prided itself on independence and neutrality and being the moral conscience of the world, so to speak. We stand up for equality and human rights, gender equality. It was only possible for the [ruling] Social Democrats to shift to support Nato membership because they believed — and reassured their followers — that they would not have to abandon this critical role.”

Erdogan told NATO member foreign ministers not to bother with their planned visit to his country, saying, “They are coming to convince us. I’m sorry, but don’t waste your time….It’s not possible to say yes to this.”

To make matters even more complicated, Erdogan has also raised the tenuous issue of sanctions which were placed on his country for purchasing Russia’s S400 missile defence system, as well as a review of Turkey’s role in the multilateral F-35 fighter project.

It’s anyone’s guess what Turkey’s actual endgame is here, but suffice to say that many state actors have now become accustomed to Ankara’s constantly shifting negotiation tactics and crafty reverse pivots. Along with Sweden and Finland, NATO nations will have to work especially hard to twist Turkey’s arm on this one…

RT International reports…

Turkey’s list of demands for NATO and its prospective members Finland and Sweden includes the removal of sanctions imposed on Ankara over its purchase of S-400 missile defense systems from Russia, as well as re-inclusion in the F-35 advanced aircraft program, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing “three senior Turkish officials.

On May 15, Finland and Sweden officially announced their intention to join NATO in the wake of the ongoing Russian military offensive on Ukraine. To make it possible, all members of the alliance would have to unanimously support their bids. Turkey, however, said it would not say “yes” to Helsinki and Stockholm because they do not have “a clear unequivocal stance” against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front (DHKP/C), groups that Ankara considers terrorist organizations.

Sweden and Finland have a record of granting political asylum to people from Turkey, particularly ethnic Kurds, fleeing internal conflicts – something that Ankara finds unacceptable. According to Bloomberg, Turkish leadership demands that Sweden and Finland “publicly denounce not only the PKK, but also its affiliates before being allowed to join the bloc.”

As Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed on Monday, his country also wants Sweden and Finland to cancel trade restrictions they imposed on Turkey.

However, as Bloomberg’s sources said on the condition of anonymity, Turkey’s wish list is long.

Turkey wants to be re-included in the F-35 advanced aircraft program, from which it was barred after it bought S-400 missile-defense systems from Russia. It also has an outstanding request to the US to purchase dozens of F-16 warplanes and upgrade kits for its existing fleet,” Bloomberg writes.

Ankara also wants the US to lift sanctions that Washington imposed on it for purchasing the S-400 missiles.

The news agency’s sources, however, refuted the suggestions that Turkey’s objections against Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership were in any way related to Ankara’s ties with Moscow. Russia has warned Helsinki and Stockholm against joining the bloc and promised an appropriate response should they create threats…

Continue this story at RT International

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