Finland and Sweden on Tuesday confirmed they are sending delegations to Ankara in hopes of resolving issues surrounding Turkey’s publicly voiced vehement opposition to the two countries’ bids to join NATO. They formally submitted their applications in a ceremony attended by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg last week, which Turkey immediately sought to block.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said the delegations will begin meetings with Turkish counterparts on Wednesday, even after days ago President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Finnish and Swedish diplomatic teams “shouldn’t bother coming” if they aren’t prepared to halt support for PKK terrorists.
Speaking during a panel discussion of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Haavisto acknowledged, “We understand that Turkey has some of their own security concerns vis-a-vis terrorism.” He added: “We think that these issues can be settled. There might be also some issues that are not linked directly to Finland and Sweden but more to other NATO members.”
US Secretary Antony Blinken and the Biden administration say they’re “confident” the issues will be smoothed over, despite Ankara officials still showing no sign of stopping the denunciations. Turkey has also demanded that Sweden extradite “terrorists” being hosted in its midst, along with the Nordic countries immediately lifting an EU arms embargo which took effect in 2019 in response to the Turkish military’s anti-Kurdish operations in northern Syria.
According to the latest statements from Turkey’s foreign ministry, Ankara is waiting on both countries to take concrete steps. “Sweden, which has applied for membership, is expected to take principled steps and provide concrete assurances regarding Turkey’s security concerns,” a statement said.
“Since 2017, our country has requested the extradition of PKK/PYD and FETO terrorists from Sweden but has yet to receive a positive response,” it added in reference referring to Syria’s main Kurdish party PYD and the Gulenist group FETO.
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde meanwhile said that “There are a number of diplomatic initiatives ongoing,” but didn’t saying whether there’s been progress made. This after on Saturday Erdogan held phone calls with the leaders of Finland and Sweden informing them of his objections.
NEW: Sweden, Finland diplomatic delegations will arrive in Turkey this evening. They will meet senior Turkish officials Kalin and Onal, and representatives from defense ministry and Intel to discuss NATO bid
Turkey to present files on PKK activities
— Officials to Turkish media
— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) May 24, 2022
“I stated that as NATO allies Finland and Turkey will commit to each other’s security and our relationship will thus grow stronger,” Finnish President Niinisto had said after the call.
Likely there’s currently intense Russian diplomacy being aimed at the Turkish government arguing that Finland especially, which shares an over 800-mile long border with Russia, must not be admitted into the Western military alliance.