Stockholm Has Yet to Convince Turkey to Change Its Stance on Sweden's NATO Bid, PM Says

© AFP 2023 / JOHN THYSSweden Foreign minister Ann Linde talks during a press conference with Finland Minister for Foreign Affairs and NATO Secretary General after their meeting at the Nato headquarters in Brussels on January 24, 2022.
Sweden Foreign minister Ann Linde talks during a press conference with Finland Minister for Foreign Affairs and NATO Secretary General after their meeting at the Nato headquarters in Brussels on January 24, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.05.2022
Sweden, who is expected to submit its application to NATO in the coming days, has stayed outside the military alliance since its foundation in 1949 to oppose the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Swedish Prime Minister Ann Linde told the country’s SVT broadcaster on Sunday that Stockholm has not yet succeeded in convincing Ankara to change its position on the NATO bids of Sweden and Finland.
She referred to her talks with Finnish and Turkish counterparts Pekka Haavisto and Mevlut Cavusoglu, respectively, to discuss NATO’s open door policy on the sidelines of an informal meeting of the alliance’s top diplomats in Berlin on Saturday.
According to Linde, no solution on the matter has been reached and the sides have agreed to continue the negotiations.
The Swedish prime minister said that during the Saturday talks, she made it clear that Stockholm “considers the PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Part] a terrorist organisation”.

“Like many other NATO allies, we [Sweden] also have talks with other Kurdish organisations, but they [Turkish officials] think that in principle all Kurds in northeastern Syria belong to the PKK. We do not think so, and neither does the US and so on”, Linde said.

Turkey Wants Sweden, Finland Crackdown on Terrorists

She spoke after Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesperson for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said in an interview with Reuters that Ankara had not blocked out Sweden and Finland joining NATO, but that it does want talks with the Scandinavian nations and a crackdown on what it perceives as terrorist activity.
"We are not closing the door. But we are basically raising this issue as a matter of national security for Turkey’, Kalin told the outlet.
He added that the PKK, which Turkey, the US and the EU blacklist as a terrorist organization, is fundraising and recruiting across Europe and its presence is "strong, open, and acknowledged" in Sweden in particular.
"What needs to be done is clear: they have to stop allowing PKK outlets, activities, organisations, individuals and other types of presence to […] exist in those countries. NATO membership is always a process. We will see how things go. But this is the first point that we want to bring to the attention of all the allies as well as to Swedish authorities”, the spokesman underscored.

Erdogan Says Ankara 'Not of Favourable Opinion' on Sweden's, Finland's NATO Accession

The remarks followed Erdogan telling reporters that the Turkish government is “following developments concerning Sweden and Finland”, but that Ankara is “not of a favourable opinion”.
He explained he did not want to repeat Turkey’s “mistake” when it agreed to readmit its regional rival Greece into the alliance's military wing in 1980, which he said had allowed Athens “to take an attitude against Turkey by taking NATO behind it.”
The Turkish president also referred to Sweden’s purported support for Kurdish groups, including the PKK, arguing that “Scandinavian countries have become a safe haven, a so-called guest house for PKK and other terror groups”. According to him, “some terrorists even participate in Sweden’s and the Netherlands’ parliaments”.
This was preceded by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg encouraging Finland’s and Sweden’s bids for the alliance, saying that the accession procedure could be completed in “a couple of weeks,” although it’s likely for the entire process to take at least six months.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov, for his part, warned that “the latest expansion of NATO will not make our continent more stable and secure". He added that the further strengthening of NATO’s eastern flank would “become an element for a special analysis and the development of the necessary measures to balance the situation and ensure our security.”
This April 2, 2009 file photo shows shadows cast on a wall decorated with the NATO logo and flags of NATO countries in Strasbourg, eastern France, before the start of the NATO summit which marked the organisation's 60th anniversary.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.05.2022
NATO to Grant Membership to Finland, Sweden Quickly, Reports Say
He made the comments as Russian President Vladimir Putin told Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto that his country joining NATO "would be a mistake since there is no threat to Finland's security".
The push by Helsinki and Stockholm’s to enter the alliance comes amid the ongoing Russian special operation to demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine, which was announced by Putin on 24 February following a request for help from the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics to protect them from intensifying shelling by the Ukrainian army.
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