Turkey rejects NATO offer of talks with Sweden, Finland

TEHRAN, Jun. 15 (MNA) – Turkey has rejected invitations by NATO to participate in trilateral talks with Finland and Sweden aimed at finding a solution to Ankara’s opposition to the Nordic countries’ applications to join the western military alliance.

Ankara has demanded concrete proposals from Helsinki and Stockholm to address its concerns over terrorism before agreeing to mediated talks, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions, forcing NATO officials to attempt to broker a deal through bilateral talks with each country, Financial Times reported.

Sweden and Finland applied to join Nato last month, with alliance leaders stating that they expected their bids to pass the first stage of approval within a couple of weeks.

But Turkey’s objections have frozen that process, with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calling the two countries “incubators” for terrorists and accusing Sweden of failing to crack down on members of the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), an armed militia that has fought the Turkish state since the 1980s, and its affiliates.

A meeting tentatively scheduled for Wednesday between officials from the three countries and moderated by a senior NATO official did not take place, one of the three people added.

A trilateral meeting mediated by alliance officials was the “ultimate objective . . . but we’re not there yet”, a senior NATO official told the Financial Times, citing Turkey’s unwillingness to participate and a lack of clarity regarding Ankara’s demands of the two applicants.

Erdoğan on Wednesday reiterated his demand for concessions from the two Nordic nations. “Until Sweden and Finland show clear, concrete and decisive steps we will definitely not change our stance on the Nato issue,” he said.

Asked about a failure to hold trilateral talks, Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said this week that “we have a process now where there have been meetings in different formats”.

He pointed to his chief of staff meeting Turkey’s national security adviser and a call between himself and Erdoğan but no examples of Nato-Finland-Sweden-Turkey talks.

Stoltenberg said on Wednesday that he “and people in his staff” were working to solve Turkey’s “legitimate concerns”, and admitted that he was less optimistic about the Nordic countries’ application process than a month ago.

“We need to sit down and address those concerns,” he said at a press conference. “This will take more time than we originally expected.”


News Code 188029


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