Sources told Reuters that Turkey’s talks this week with Sweden and Finland over their NATO bids did not make much progress towards lifting Ankara’s objection to the two Nordic nations joining the military alliance.
Delegations from Sweden and Norway headed home from Ankara with a list of Turkey’s concerns, and at this point, it’s not clear when the next round of talks will be. “It is not an easy process,” a Turkish official told Reuters. “They need to take concrete steps that will be difficult. Further negotiations will continue. But a date doesn’t seem very close.”
In order for the two Nordic nations to join NATO, they need the approval of all 30 of the alliance’s members. Turkey has objected to Sweden and Finland’s potential membership over claims that they support the PKK, a Kurdish militant group Ankara considers a terrorist organization. Ankara also wants the two countries to lift sanctions they imposed on Turkey in 2019.
US and NATO officials have tried to downplay Turkey’s opposition, but Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Friday that the concerns must be taken seriously. “An approach of ‘we’ll convince Turkey in time anyway, we are friends and allies’ would not be correct,” he said. “These countries need to take concrete steps.”
Helsinki and Stockholm joining NATO will significantly escalate tensions with Moscow in the region as Finland and Russia share an over 800-mile border. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that while he doesn’t view the two nations joining NATO as a threat, he would have to respond to the expansion of NATO military infrastructure.