Finland and Sweden are sending delegations to Ankara on Wednesday in an effort to convince Turkey to drop its opposition to the two Nordic countries’ bids for NATO membership.
Turkey’s main issue with Finland and Sweden is their alleged support for the PKK, a Kurdish militant group Ankara considers a terrorist organization. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke with the leaders of the two Nordic nations on Saturday and urged them to abandon support for “terrorist” groups as a condition for joining NATO.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said Tuesday that he expects the PKK issue could be resolved. “We understand that Turkey has some of their own security concerns vis-a-vis terrorism,” he said. “We think that these issues can be settled. There might be also some issues that are not linked directly to Finland and Sweden but more to other NATO members.”
Turkey has accused Finland and Sweden of harboring suspected PKK members and supporters of Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic leader Ankara has accused of being behind a 2016 coup attempt. Ankara also wants Finland and Sweden to lift sanctions imposed on Turkey in 2019 over Erdogan’s offensive in northeast Syria.
Despite Turkey’s objection, NATO officials are eager to see Finland and Sweden admitted into the military alliance. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that he expects Ankara’s issues will be resolved and the two nations will be able to join.