07/06/2022


© Reuters. From the archive: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan holds a press conference during the NATO Summit on June 14, 2021 at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Photograph: Yves Hermann/Reuters

By Tovan Gumruko and Anne Kuranen

ANKARA/HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finland and Sweden should amend their laws if necessary to meet Turkey’s demands and win their support for their bid to join NATO, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Tuesday, doubling the threat of a veto against a historic expansion . from the alliance.

In a move that shocked its allies, Turkey on May 13 rejected Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO on the grounds that they harbor people linked to groups it considers terrorist, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and to halt arms exports to Turkey in 2019. Northern countries applied to join to NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine.

All 30 NATO members must agree to expansion plans.

Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey, a NATO member for seven decades, would not raise its veto if its demands were not met, echoing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent comments.

Ankara said that Sweden and Finland should stop supporting the PKK and other groups, prevent them from organizing events on their soil, hand over those wanted to Turkey on terrorism charges, support military operations and Ankara to combat terrorism, and place restrictions on all arms exports.

Finland and Sweden have tried to negotiate a solution, and other NATO capitals have said they remain confident that the objections of Turkey – which has the second largest army in NATO – can be overcome.

Documents

Çavuşoğlu said Turkey had submitted documents to visiting delegations of Finland and a Swede outlining the demands during talks in Ankara last week and was awaiting their response, adding that he expected allies to work on this to address security concerns.

“Are our demands impossible? No. We want them to stop their support for terrorism,” Cavusoglu told the state-run Anadolu Agency, adding that Ankara is aware that some of his demands require a change of law.

They put it this way: “Since we are far from the terror zones, our laws are designed like this. Well, then you have to change them.” They say the terrorist organization is allowed to organize events and threaten breaches. Then you have to change your law.”

The Nordic countries have declared that they condemn terrorism and are open to dialogue.

Cavusoglu said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is working on the issue and suggested talks with the three countries in Brussels, but said Ankara sees no point before Stockholm and Helsinki respond to his written demands.

“There have to be concrete things that we can discuss,” he said.

Earlier, Erdogan’s communications director, Fahrettin Altun, told Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s largest daily, that Finland should take Turkey’s concerns seriously.

“At some point, the Finnish government will have to decide which is more important – to join NATO or protect these kinds of organizations,” he said, referring to the PKK and other groups that Ankara considers terrorists.