Ankara says Finland constructive, Sweden ‘provocative’ in NATO talks

2021
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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Sunday lauded Finland’s conciliatory approach but criticized Sweden for “provocative” statements during talks in Berlin on the two countries joining NATO, Agence France-Presse reported.

Turkey on Friday threatened to block NATO’s enlargement process with the two Nordic countries, which requires the unanimous approval of the alliance’s members.

“The Swedish foreign minister’s statements are unfortunately not constructive. She continues to make provocative remarks,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters in Berlin on the sidelines of an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

The minister struck a more conciliatory tone towards Finland, which he described as “very respectful” in the face of Ankara’s “concerns”.

“But we don’t see the same thing in Sweden,” he insisted.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday criticised the two countries for serving as “safe havens for terrorists of the PKK”, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is blacklisted as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union, and the United States.

“We have always supported NATO’s open door policy,” Çavuşoğlu said.

“But the fact that these two countries are in contact with members of a terrorist organization, that Sweden sends them weapons and that they impose restrictions on the export of defense equipment to Turkey goes against the spirit of alliance.”

Çavuşoğlu said he was waiting to see what guarantees would be offered by the two countries.

“It is absolutely necessary to end support for terrorist organizations and lift restrictions on exports to Turkey. I’m not saying that as a bargaining chip, but because that’s what it means to be allies,” he said.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg voiced confidence Sunday in resolving Turkey’s concerns and stressed that Ankara was not seeking to block the two countries’ membership.

“I am confident we’ll be able to find common ground, consensus on how to move on membership issues,” Stoltenberg told reporters virtually at a NATO meeting in Berlin.

Several NATO member states said Sunday they were “on the right track” to reach a consensus on the integration of Finland and Sweden, with Berlin even saying their membership could come “very quickly”.

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