Turkey needs more concrete steps from Sweden for NATO bid: FM
Turkish Foreign Minister says he told his Swedish and Finnish counterparts that Ankara hasn't seen concrete steps in exchange for ratifying their NATO bids.
Turkey said on Wednesday that Sweden's new government was more determined to address Ankara's security concerns in return for NATO membership but called for "concrete steps".
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met on Tuesday with his Swedish and Finnish counterparts on the sidelines of a NATO gathering in Bucharest.
Ankara has accused the two Nordic nations -- especially Stockholm -- of providing a safe haven for Kurdish groups it deems "terrorists" and held back on ratifying their NATO bids despite an agreement in Madrid in June.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had told NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg that until Finland and Sweden take the necessary "steps", Turkey will not ratify their membership of NATO.
Cavusoglu told reporters in Bucharest that "the statements (coming out of Sweden) are good, the determination is good but we need to see concrete steps."
"We told them we haven't seen concrete steps on these issues," including the extradition of criminals and freezing of terror assets, he pointed out.
What were the promises?
On June 28, the two Nordic countries signed a trilateral memorandum of understanding with Turkey in which they pledged to address Ankara’s concerns over their stance toward the PKK, YPG, and the Gulen movements.
In the memorandum, the two Nordic countries had agreed to lift their embargoes on weapons deliveries to Turkey, which were imposed in response to Ankara's 2019 military incursion into Syria.
Erdogan's office confirmed in late June that Finland and Sweden agreed to abandon "the embargo in the field of the military-industrial complex" of Turkey, adding that the two countries agreed to amend their national legislation "in the field of counter-terrorism and the defense industry."
One request vs. a long list of conditions— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) June 28, 2022
While #Turkey had a long list of conditions from #Finland and #Sweden, all the two Nordic states wanted was to join #NATO.
Here's your guide to understanding on what basis the agreement was made. pic.twitter.com/Aw7Jtu7frp
Finland and Sweden will also ban "fundraising and recruitment activities" for the Kurdish militants and "prevent terrorist propaganda against Turkey," Erdogan's office said.
The statement mentioned that the two Nordic countries also agreed to cooperate with Turkey on the deportation and extradition of "terrorism suspects".
Turkey announced on July 21 the establishment of a "permanent committee" to meet with Finnish and Swedish officials in August and review whether the two countries are meeting Ankara's conditions for ratifying their NATO membership aspirations.
On his part, Sweden's Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom spoke optimistically about Tuesday's meeting.
'Progress in line'
"I have to say that I felt after this meeting that yes, there is progress in line," Billstrom said, adding that "we are moving forward with the implementation of a trilateral memorandum which was signed in Madrid."
Finland and Sweden dropped decades of military non-alignment and scrambled to become NATO members in May, after the start of the Ukraine war.
The decision requires a consensus within the US-led defense alliance, but only Turkey and Hungary are yet to give consent to their membership.
Last week, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Hungary's parliament plans to ratify NATO membership for Finland and Sweden in early 2023.
Earlier in November, the head of Orban’s office, Gergely Gulyas, said "Finland and Sweden are our allies, and they can count on us."
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