Turkey Lifts Objection to Sweden, Finland Joining NATO

Sweden and Finland agreed not to support Kurdish militant groups and to lift export controls on Turkey

Turkey agreed on Tuesday to lift its objection to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, paving the way for the two Nordic countries to begin their application process at this week’s NATO summit in Madrid.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto released a statement that said that he and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson held talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Madrid that were facilitated by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

The three leaders signed a joint memorandum that said Turkey would support the Nordic nations’ NATO bid at the upcoming summit. Niinisto said the memorandum outlined that Turkey, Finland, and Sweden agreed to “extend their full support against threats to each other’s security.”

Turkey initially objected to Sweden and Finland’s application due to their alleged ties to the PKK, a Kurdish militant group the US, the EU, and Turkey consider a terrorist organization. Erdogan also wanted the Nordic nations to lift export controls on weapons they placed on Turkey in response to a Turkish assault on northeast Syria in 2019.

According to a leaked copy of the memorandum posted to Twitter by a Reuters reporter, Sweden and Finland agreed to lift the arms embargo on Turkey and said they would not provide support to the YPG in Syria, which is part of the Kurdish-led SDF, a group that receives support from the US.

Sweden and Finland also confirmed their belief that the PKK is a terrorist organization and vowed to take steps to “prevent the activities” of the group. They also said they would address Turkey’s requests for the extradition of suspected terrorists.

“Over the past weeks, Turkey has raised its concerns over the threat of terrorism,” Niinisto said in his statement. “Finland has constantly taken these concerns seriously. Finland condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. As a NATO member, Finland will commit fully to the counterterrorism documents and policies of NATO.”

The Nordic nations joining NATO could significantly escalate tensions with Moscow as Finland shares an over 800-mile border with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently said that Moscow doesn’t view Sweden and Finland joining NATO as a “direct threat” but warned he will respond to the expansion of the alliance’s military infrastructure.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.