May 31, 2022 16:54 UTC
  • Turkey: Finland, Sweden must amend laws if needed to meet NATO demands

The Turkish foreign minister says Finland and Sweden must amend their laws if needed to meet Turkey's demands and win Ankara's backing for their NATO membership bid, doubling down on a threat to veto the expansion of the US-led military alliance so long as the two Nordic states failed to stop supporting terrorist groups.

Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday that Turkey would not lift its veto for the accession bid unless Ankara's demands, put forward in a meeting with visiting Finnish and Swedish delegations last week, were fulfilled.

The seven-decades-long NATO member says Sweden and Finland must halt their support for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants and other terror groups, bar them from organizing any events on their territory, extradite those sought by Turkey on terrorism charges, support Ankara's military and counter-terrorism operations, and lift all arms exports restrictions to the country.

The Turkish diplomat said Ankara had given the Finnish and Swedish delegations documents outlining the demands and that it was awaiting their response, adding he expected NATO allies to work to address the security concerns.

"Are our demands impossible? No. We want them to halt their support for terror," Cavusoglu told the state-run Anadolu news agency, saying Ankara was aware that some of its demands would require laws to be amended.

"They put it this way: 'Since we are far away from terror regions, our laws are designed that way.' Well, then you need to change them," he said. "They say it is allowed for the terrorist organization to organize events and wave their rags around. Then you have to change your law."

Pointing to the condemnation of terrorism by the Nordic states and their openness to dialog, Cavusoglu said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg was working on the issue and had proposed holding talks in Brussels with the three countries, but said Ankara saw no point in that meeting before Stockholm and Helsinki responded to its written demands.

"There need to be concrete things for us to discuss," the Turkish foreign minister stressed.

Finland and Sweden have sought to negotiate a solution to the dispute, with other NATO members expressing confidence that the objections raised by Turkey can be overcome.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has on multiple occasions said he cannot endorse the bid of Sweden to join the NATO military alliance as long as the two Nordic countries continue to lend support to terrorist groups against his country.