Finland lifts Turkish arms embargo
Finland and Sweden announced its official membership bid to join NATO in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
By News Desk - January 26 2023

urkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) and Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (L) give a press conference following their meeting in Ankara.
(Photo Credit : Adem Altan/AFP)

On 25 January, Finland lifted its three-year-long arms embargo on Turkiye to allow the sale of weapons to Ankara. The move is considered an important step by Finland to receive Turkiye’s approval for its NATO membership bid.

In a statement, the Finnish Defense Ministry declared that it would restart exporting steel to Turkiye, which can be used to manufacture weapons and military equipment.

The Turkish military vehicle manufacturer BMC will get 12,000 tons of protective material from the Finnish steel firm Miilux through 2025, according to a report by the Finnish Hufvudstadsbladet newspaper on 25 January.

This action reverses Finland’s decision from 2019 to halt granting permits for military exports to Turkiye in response to Ankara’s military action against Kurdish forces.

However, Finland’s decision coincided with Ankara’s announcement to indefinitely postpone a trilateral mechanism meeting with Sweden and Finland scheduled for February. Ankara made the decision in wake of a weekend protest in Stockholm led by a far-right politician who burned a copy of the Quran.

The meeting, set to take place in the Swedish capital, was “postponed at Ankara’s request,” according to state-owned TRT on 24 January.

On 23 January, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Sweden should not expect his backing to join NATO following the burning of the Quran outside Ankara’s embassy in Stockholm.

“Those who allow such blasphemy in front of our embassy [in Stockholm] can no longer expect our support for their NATO membership,” Erdogan said in his first official response to the act by a far-right politician during a protest approved by the Swedish police.

The Swedish police decision to allow the Quran burning protest drew a furious response from Ankara last Friday, as the country canceled a planned visit by Sweden’s defense minister and summoned the Swedish ambassador for a dressing down.

Last May, Erdogan threatened to veto the countries’ membership in NATO over their alleged ties to Kurdish militant groups.

Over the past year, the Nordic countries have been looking to join NATO, breaking with decades of neutrality. However, they need the unanimous approval of all members of the US-led alliance, including Turkiye and Hungary.

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