Ankara: "Steps not enough for Turkey's ratification"
Diplomats of Turkey, Sweden and Finland met on Thursday as trilateral talks on the NATO accession of the two Nordic countries resumed after it was suspended in January because of a protest in Stockholm at which a far right politician burned a copy of the Koran.
The talks constitutes a mechanism to discuss the progress made in the context of a trilateral memorandum that is aimed at securing Turkey's approval for Sweden's and Finland's NATO membership on conditions set by Ankara.
Turkey, who accuses Finland and particularly Sweden of "harboring terrorists," says it will give green light to the membership bids only on condition that they crack harder on Kurdish political activists allegedly affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and hand them over to Turkey, stop providing support for Kurdish militia in Northern Syria, and lift arms embargoes imposed on Turkey after its occupation of parts of Syria in 2019.
Sweden's chief negotiator in the accession process said after the meeting on Thursday that Turkey has acknowledged that Sweden and Finland have taken concrete steps to meet Ankara's concerns and that the three will hold further meetings.
"We see that Turkey recognized that both Sweden and Finland have taken concrete steps in this agreement, which is a good sign," chief negotiator Oscar Stenstrom told a news conference at NATO headquarters, adding:
"A little step forward, the talks have restarted and we have agreed that we will continue to meet and I can't say exactly when."
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said steps taken by Sweden and Finland to address Ankara's security concerns were positive, but not enough for Turkey's ratification of their NATO bid.
"We have once again highlighted Turkey's security concerns and expectations," he said. "The steps to be taken by the countries will determine the course and speed of this issue."
Stenstrom said Sweden had fulfilled its part of the bargain.