File photo. (Photo credit: JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images)
Sweden’s Inspectorate of Strategic Products (ISP) announced on 30 September its decision to lift the ban on exporting military equipment to Turkey, as apart of the concession’s made by Stockholm in their pursuit to join NATO.
Both Sweden and Finland sought membership to NATO earlier this year, shortly after the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. However, the process was halted after Turkey raised several objections, claiming Sweden funded several Kurdish militant groups that supposedly pose a threat to Turkey, such as the People’s Protection Unit (YPG) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The two Nordic nations effectively prohibited arms sales to Turkey in 2019, following Ankara’s invasion of northern Syria to fight against the PKK and YPG, which resulted in the ISP revoking existing permits.
The three countries reached an agreement during the NATO summit in Madrid back in June, where Finland and Sweden agreed to take the “necessary steps” to address Turkey’s concerns.
Swedish Foreign Minister Anne Linde said on 12 June that Sweden may lift the arms embargo on Turkey and approve weapon sales on condition Ankara abandon its objection to the Scandinavian country joining NATO.
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,” Foreign Minister 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 for the year 2023, a day after he announced that Ankara would resume its operation in Syria to establish a 30-kilometer ‘safe zone’ along Turkey’s southern borders.