Stoltenberg believes that Sweden has taken “important steps” to circumvent Turkey’s veto on joining NATO | International

Jens Stoltenberg and Magdalena Andersson, this Monday in a rowing boat in Harpsund (Sweden).
Jens Stoltenberg and Magdalena Andersson, this Monday in a rowing boat in Harpsund (Sweden).TT NEWS AGENCY (via REUTERS)

The Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, has indicated this Monday in an appearance that Sweden has taken “important steps” to comply with the demands that Turkey has raised to approve the entry of the Scandinavian country and Finland into the Atlantic Alliance. The Norwegian has highlighted that the Swedish Government is working on a reform of its terrorist legislation and on making its arms export policy more flexible. The Turkish Executive maintains the process of ratification of the accession of the two Nordic countries blocked by accusing them of protecting terrorist groups, mainly the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and for the restrictions on the sale of weapons that Stockholm and Helsinki imposed in 2019 on Ankara.

“I appreciate that Sweden has begun to change its anti-terror legislation and that it is going to ensure that the legal framework for arms exports reflects the future status as a member of NATO, with new commitments to allies,” Stoltenberg said at a press conference. press in the Swedish town of Harpsund in which the Prime Minister of the Scandinavian country, Magdalena Andersson, also spoke. “We take Turkey’s considerations very seriously,” said the Social Democrat leader, who did not want to comment on the requests for extradition of Kurdish activists residing in Sweden and Finland that the Turkish government has requested.

The maximum leader of the Atlantic Alliance has highlighted that the PKK is considered a terrorist organization by NATO and by all the members of the EU, although he has not referred to the Popular Protection Units (YPG), some Kurdish-Syrian militias that Turkey considers a branch of the PKK, but who have been allies of the US during the war in Syria and have received the backing of Stockholm. Sweden and Finland suspended arms sales to Ankara following the 2019 occupation of a strip of northern Syria by the Turkish army.

Stoltenberg said on a trip to Finland on Sunday that Turkey has put “legitimate issues” on the table that “must be taken seriously.” The secretary general of the transatlantic organization emphasized that the Eurasian country — “a key ally” — is the NATO member that has suffered the most from the consequences of terrorism. Stoltenberg insisted during a speech with Finnish President Saulii Niinistö that the only way to overcome Ankara’s misgivings is through dialogue. At the beginning of June, the Finnish Foreign Minister, Pekka Haavisto, announced in a gesture of rapprochement Helsinki’s interest in acquiring Barayktar TB2 drones —which have become a symbol of Ukraine’s defense against the Russian offensive—.

Jens Stoltenberg and Sauli Niinistö, on Sunday in Naantali (Finland).
Jens Stoltenberg and Sauli Niinistö, on Sunday in Naantali (Finland).MAURI RATILAINEN (EFE)

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Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO in May, following a profound upheaval in public opinion and in the political class in both countries caused by Russia’s brutal attack on Ukraine. The decision must be ratified unanimously by the 30 members of the Alliance, and Turkey is the only one of the allies that is putting obstacles in the way. The Finnish president reiterated on Sunday that the Turkish government did not express its misgivings until the two Nordic countries formally announced their intention to join the military organization. Stoltenberg stressed after his meeting with Niinistö that the NATO summit to be held in Madrid at the end of June “is not a deadline” to approve the integration of Sweden and Finland into the military bloc.

The pressure on the Swedish government does not only come from Turkey. Last week, the Social Democratic Executive survived a motion of censure against Morgan Johansson, the Minister of the Interior and Justice, by reaching an agreement with Amineh Kakabaveh, an independent deputy of Kurdish origin. The Prime Minister had announced that the Government would resign en bloc if the motion was successful. Kakabaveh assured that Andersson had guaranteed him that no measures will be taken that affect the Kurdish population residing in the Scandinavian country. “It is in the Riksdag (Swedish Parliament) that Sweden’s policies are decided; not in Ankara”, sentenced the parliamentarian.

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