Turkey’s talks with Sweden and Finland made little progress on NATO concerns – sources

  • Unclear when talks will resume after meeting with Turkey – sources
  • Ankara opposed Nordic states’ NATO candidacies, shocking their allies
  • Turkey says it is looking for concrete actions to support offers

ANKARA, May 27 (Reuters) – Talks between Turkish officials and the Swedish and Finnish delegations have made little progress in overcoming Ankara’s objections to their bid for NATO membership, and it is unclear when further discussions will take place, according to two sources.

Swedish and Finnish diplomats met in Turkey on Wednesday to try to appease the NATO member and reach a deal that would see a historic enlargement of the Western alliance in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The two Nordic states formally applied to join NATO last week to bolster their security. The 30 members of NATO must approve the enlargement plans.

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Turkey has challenged their candidacy on the grounds that it harbors people linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group and others it considers terrorists, and because it has halted exports of weapons to Ankara in 2019. read more

“It’s not an easy process,” a senior Turkish official told Reuters on Friday, adding that Sweden and Finland needed to take “difficult” steps to win Ankara’s support. “New negotiations will continue. But a date does not seem very close.”

A separate person familiar with the situation said the talks had not made clear progress and ended with no timetable to continue, raising the possibility that Turkey could still oppose membership bids when NATO will hold a summit on June 29 and 30 in Madrid.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday that Turkey expects Sweden and Finland to take concrete action and end such support before it lifts its objections.

Following a meeting in Washington with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said it was very important to get results before the Madrid summit.

“We had good negotiations there, long negotiations, agreed to continue these talks, and of course we rely on NATO’s open door policy, which is also supported by Turkey. And we believe that these issues can be resolved,” he said of the talks. in Turkey.

The Swedish Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.

Both countries said they condemned terrorism and welcomed the possibility of coordinating with Ankara.

The five-hour talks on Wednesday were cordial and included separate sessions between Turkish officials and their counterparts from the two Nordic countries, followed by three-way talks with all sides, the second source added.

A third source told Reuters that Turkish officials were playing down the prospects of reaching an agreement before the Madrid summit.


Neutrals throughout the Cold War, Sweden and Finland’s decision to join NATO is one of the most significant shifts in Europe’s security architecture in decades. Finland shares a 1,300 km (810 mile) border with Russia.

They had hoped it would be a quick accession process that would provide them with the collective security guarantee of the pact, and NATO countries say they will succeed.

But Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has shocked his allies by opposing offers on the presence, notably in Stockholm, of people he has described as linked to the PKK and supporters of Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of having orchestrated a coup attempt in 2016.

The senior Turkish official said Sweden and Finland had made promises during the talks which should be formalized. The Turks have handed over to their counterparts evidence of PKK members believed to be in the Nordic countries, the official added.

The second source said Turkish officials had again raised extradition prospects and appeared in no rush to agree a roadmap for a deal.

The chairman of the Swedish parliament’s foreign affairs committee told Reuters this month that deporting people not on the European Union’s terrorist lists was “totally unthinkable”.

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on Twitter on Friday that unspecified reports of Swedish politicians representing the PKK were incorrect. Read more

On Wednesday, she called the talks in Turkey constructive and said they would continue. Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, had said that Ankara observed a positive attitude on lifting the export embargo during the meetings. Read more

Sweden and Finland banned arms exports to Turkey after Ankara’s 2019 incursion into Syria against the Kurdish YPG militia. Ankara views the YPG as identical to the PKK and views both groups as terrorist organizations.

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Additional reporting by Ece Toksabay and Daren Butler in Istanbul and Daphne Psaledakis and Rami Ayyub in Washington; Editing by Catherine Evans and Grant McCool

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Sharon P. Juarez