Finland and Sweden should stop ‘wasting NATO time’, Turkish politician tells Swedish newspaper

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An adviser to the Turkish president told Dagens Nyheter that Turkish demands regarding Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership remain unchanged.

Turkey has released a list of demands it says must be met before Finland and Sweden can begin NATO membership talks. Image: Stephanie Lecocq / EPA

Turkey’s demands for Finland and Sweden to join NATO remain unchanged and there is nothing to negotiate, an adviser to the Turkish president says Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter in a email interview (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

“It’s not fair that Finland and Sweden waste NATO’s time at this critical time,” Fahrettin Altun wrote in response to questions from the newspaper.

Altun, who is in charge of media and communications for the Turkish president, added that Turkey expected more from Finland and Sweden than just words. Turkey has blocked accession talks between the alliance and the two Nordic countries unless a list of demands are met.

The demands include the lifting of restrictions on arms exports and the extradition of members of certain Kurdish organizations opposed to Erdogan’s government.

“We said that these countries must choose between providing practical and political support to terrorist organizations and waiting for Turkey’s consent to their NATO membership, and they must show it with explicit signs,” Erdogan said.

Jussi Halla-aho (Finnish), Chairman of the Finnish Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, recently told Yle that Finland cannot be flexible on extradition-related issues while the Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) said Finland considers arms exports on a case-by-case basis.

Turkey has consistently maintained that its demands are reasonable and expects Finland and Sweden to accept them. Ibrahim Kalinanother adviser to Erdogan, told Turkish state media that Turkey does not view the NATO summit in Madrid in late June as a “deadline” for demands to be met.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg indicated that he was working to resolve the impasse. Stoltenberg met with the Prime Minister of Finland Sanna Marin (SDP) in Washington DC on Friday and also recently spoke by telephone with President Erdogan.

In a tweet, Stoltenberg said he and Marin discussed the need to address Turkey’s concerns as well as the status of NATO bids submitted by Finland and Sweden.

Stoltenberg called his conversation with Erdogan “constructive”, but he did not reveal the content of the discussion.

Delegates from Finland, Sweden and Turkey are due to meet in Brussels next week to discuss the situation.

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