(Photo credit: EPA-EFE)
Following talks between Turkish officials and delegations from Sweden and Finland in relation to Ankara’s objections to their request to join NATO, little progress has been made, according to a report by Reuters.
A Turkish official said: “It is not an easy process … They need to take concrete steps that will be difficult. Further negotiations will continue. But a date does not seem very close.”
Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO last week as a response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
All 30 NATO members must unanimously approve of Sweden and Finland’s membership. However, Turkey opposes it and claims that the two nations are harboring ‘terrorist groups,’ and condemns their involvement in halting arms exports to Ankara.
On 25 May, delegations from Sweden and Finland paid a visit to Turkey in an effort to persuade Ankara to end its opposition to efforts by the two countries to join NATO.
Turkey cites the support that the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) receives from Sweden and Finland is the main reason for blocking their membership to NATO.
The PKK, along with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) are the backbone of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and are considered to be terrorist organizations by Ankara, who justifies its military presence in Syria and Iraq as a means of fighting these groups.
On 24 May, Sweden denied that it provides military or financial support to terrorist groups. “Sweden is a major humanitarian donor to the Syria crisis through global allocations to humanitarian actors,” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said.
“Cooperation in northeastern Syria is carried out primarily through the United Nations and international organizations,” she added.
Erdogan alleges that Sweden has approved a plan to provide $376 million to the YPG in 2023, and have previously provided them with military equipment.
A day prior, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced his intentions to launch a new military campaign against US-backed Kurdish forces in northern Syria.
Erdogan said the operation will resume its efforts to establish a 30-kilometer ‘safe zone’ along Turkey’s southern borders.