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Turkey wants ‘concrete steps’ from Sweden, Finland over NATO bids

Al Jazeera logo Al Jazeera 6/15/2022

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that steps should be taken to address Ankara’s “legitimate” concerns over the NATO bids of Finland and Sweden.

According to a statement by Turkey’s Communications Directorate on Wednesday, Erdogan told NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in a phone call that no progress can be achieved without seeing “concrete steps” by both Finland and Sweden that would meet Turkey’s “rightful expectations”.

The steps could include written commitments to a paradigm shift in fighting “terrorism” and defence industry cooperation, the statement said.

Meanwhile, Stoltenberg said on Twitter that he held a “constructive conversation” with Erdogan ahead of the NATO summit in Madrid that will be held June 29-30.

“We discussed the importance of addressing Turkey’s legitimate security concerns on the fight against terrorism and making progress in the NATO accession process for Finland and Sweden,” he added.

Ankara waiting for ‘written response’

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also said on Wednesday that Ankara was waiting for a “written response” from Sweden and Finland to Ankara’s objections to their NATO bids.

“We have transmitted our questions in writing to these two countries … Now we’re waiting for their written responses,” he said.

Cavusoglu previously said that the two countries should amend their laws if needed to win Ankara’s backing.

The two Nordic countries reversed decades of military non-alignment by applying for NATO memberships in May, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Any NATO membership deal must, however, be unanimously approved by all 30 members of the alliance, and Turkey has blocked their bids.

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin has acknowledged that the Nordic bids could stall if agreement with Turkey is not reached before the NATO summit later in June [Henrik Montgomery/TT News Agency via Reuters] © Provided by Al Jazeera Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin has acknowledged that the Nordic bids could stall if agreement with Turkey is not reached before the NATO summit later in June [Henrik Montgomery/TT News Agency via Reuters]

Ankara is accusing the Nordic neighbours of providing a safe haven for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a “terrorist” group by Turkey and its Western allies, as well as other Kurdish groups in Syria.

Stoltenberg said on Monday, during a visit to Sweden, that NATO was working “hard and actively” to resolve Turkey’s concerns “as soon as possible”.

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin acknowledged on Tuesday that the Nordic bids could stall if agreement with Turkey is not reached before the summit later in June.

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