Swedish, Finnish delegations will try to persuade Turkey over NATO bids

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Sweden and Finland will send delegations to Ankara this week hoping to clear up differences with Turkey, which opposes their applications to join NATO, Agence France-Presse reported, citing Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto on Tuesday.

“When we see the problems coming, of course, we take this diplomatically. We are sending our delegations to visit Ankara from both Sweden and Finland. This will happen tomorrow,” Haavisto told attendees at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Sweden and Finland applied to join the transatlantic alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We think that NATO is a group of 30 democratic countries with common values and very strong transatlantic cooperation, and this is what we are looking for at this moment,” Haavisto added.

Turkey’s foreign ministry said presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın and deputy foreign minister Sedat Önal will meet the Finnish-Swedish officials on Wednesday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu was quoted as saying by private broadcaster NTV that Ankara has prepared a “draft agreement” that will be the basis of the discussions.

Turkey wants “guarantees” that can be made in an official, signed agreement, not “wishes”, he said.

NATO member Turkey has long accused Nordic countries, in particular Sweden which has a strong Turkish immigrant community, of harboring outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants as well as supporters of Fethullah Gülen, the US-based preacher wanted over a failed 2016 coup.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned Saturday that Turkey would oppose membership for the two applicants unless its concerns were addressed — potentially a major obstacle as a consensus is required in NATO decisions.

“We understand that Turkey has some of their own security concerns, such as terrorism,” Haavisto said.

“We think that we have good answers for those because we are also part of the fight against the terrorists. So, we think that this issue can be settled,” he added.

Beyond smoothing ruffles between the Nordic countries and Turkey, analysts say Ankara may be making a show of opposition to secure concessions from other NATO members, such as deliveries of fighter planes from the United States.

Haavisto said “there might be also some issues that are not linked directly to Finland or Sweden more to other NATO members or so forth, but I’m sure that in a good spirit, NATO can solve this issue.”

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