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Turkish FM: Sweden, Finland took “positive steps” to join NATO

December 1, 2022 at 10:26 am

Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, Turkiye on November 1, 2022 [Murat Gök/Anadolu Agency]

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Wednesday that Sweden and Finland have taken “positive steps” to combat terrorism, a condition stipulated by Ankara for accepting the Nordic countries’ accession bid  to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

“The new government in Sweden is more determined than its predecessor, and we welcome this development,” the Turkish top diplomat added, during a press conference held on the side-lines of the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Bucharest.

He added that Swedish officials “made legislative amendments, and all of this constitutes positive steps”, however, he said that despite the correct “sounding statements and great determination” by the two Nordic countries, Turkey is still waiting for “concrete measures.”

“We have not yet seen concrete measures in areas such as extradition, freezing the assets of terrorist groups and ending their activities. Yes, there are positive steps such as legislative changes, but we have to verify their implementation,” he added.

The foreign ministers of Sweden, Finland and Turkey met on Tuesday, on the side-lines of the NATO meeting.

READ: Turkiye’s Erdogan wants Swedish action on anti-terrorism for NATO bid approval

For his part, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström said “we had a very good meeting yesterday (…) I will say that after this meeting I felt that there was progress,” noting that he would visit Ankara soon to support Sweden’s accession to NATO.

Turkey accuses Sweden and Finland of being lenient with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK and its allies, such as the Kurdish People’s Protection Units.

Ankara has been blocking Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO over their support for Kurdish groups, designated as “terrorists” by Turkey.

However, in June, the three countries signed a MoU linking their membership to their fight against Kurdish movements and their supporters on their lands.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson promised, during a visit to Ankara in early November, to address Turkey’s concern in its war against terrorism, in order to overcome all obstacles to his country’s accession to NATO.