Turkish FM reveals he met with Syrian counterpart in Belgrade
Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership in mid-May, abandoning decades of neutrality and citing a shift in Europe's security situation.
Speaking to reporters on the final day of the 13th Ambassadors Conference in Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday that representatives from Turkey, Sweden, and Finland will meet to discuss the two Scandinavian countries' accession to NATO.
"The meeting is scheduled for August 26," Cavusoglu said.
Cavusoglu cited words made by Hulusi Akar, the minister of national defense of Turkey, regarding the need for confidence-building measures in relation to relations with Greece.
Cavusoglu claimed that the exploratory talks were scheduled to take place for some time and that while Turkey is showing willingness, Greece has not yet sent a defense minister to visit Turkey.
The top Turkish diplomat stated that when conversing with other ministers during the non-aligned movement gathering in October in Belgrade, Serbia, he had a brief conversation with his Syrian colleague Faisal Mekdad.
"We have to somehow bring opposition and the regime in Syria together to reach an agreement. Otherwise, there will be no lasting peace," he said.
Cavusoglu also stated that there must be strong administration in Syria to prevent any division of the country, adding that "the will that can dominate every corner of its lands can only be achieved through unity and solidarity."
Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership in mid-May, three months after the Ukraine crisis began, abandoning decades of neutrality and citing a shift in Europe's security situation.
Turkey initially blocked consideration of the bids due to Helsinki and Stockholm's long-standing support for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which Ankara regards as a terrorist organization and a threat to its national security.
Prior to the historic NATO summit in Madrid on June 28, Turkey, Sweden, and Finland signed a security memorandum that unblocked the start of negotiations on the two Scandinavian countries' accession to the alliance. The parties agreed to increase cooperation in the fight against terrorism, including anti-PKK measures, and to address Ankara's concerns.
In July, Ankara threatened to stall the process of Sweden and Finland joining NATO. The Turkish President stressed, "I repeat once again that if our demands are not met the process will be slowed down. We see that especially Sweden does not show the proper reaction."
Previously, in May, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed determination to block Sweden and Finland's application to enter NATO, calling Sweden a "complete terror haven."
On June 15, Turkey rejected NATO's offer to hold trilateral talks with Finland and Sweden. On July 10, Sweden made a list of 10 Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) members to extradite to Turkey following the signature of a memorandum in Madrid, according to Turkish broadcaster TRT Haber.