Turkish FM: Talks with Sweden and Finland to restart
Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a press conference in Ankara that suspended talks with Sweden and Finland on their NATO membership bid would resume soon.
Responding to questions at a joint conference on Monday with US State Secretary Antony Blinken, minister Cavusoglu signaled easing tensions between Stockholm and Ankara as he said that the trilateral talks will resume.
"Our officials will make transparent assessments in Brussels, alongside their colleagues and NATO officials, whether or not steps have been taken and which ones were taken," he said.
Turkey had cancelled indefinitely a trilateral mechanism with Sweden and Finland on their applications to join NATO after Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right political party Hard Line, burned a copy of the Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm in January.
Cavusoglu also said all parties in the alliance must convince Sweden in particular to take more action to address Ankara's concerns and win its support for the bid.
When asked if Ankara would approve their accession by a NATO summit set to take place in Lithuania in July, a gathering by which the Western countries are hoping the expansion can be completed, Cavusoglu said Stockholm needed to do more.
"Sweden made a law change, but we see that every kind of activities, including terrorism financing, recruitment and propaganda, are continuing in Sweden," he said.
Blinken said, "Finland and Sweden have already taken concrete steps to fulfill the commitments that they met under the trilateral memorandum of agreement that they signed."
Reiterating that NATO's Nordic expansion issue is not a bilateral one with Turkey, he stated that the US administration strongly supported Sweden and Finland's accession into the alliance "as quickly as possible."
Sweden and Finland applied last year to join the trans-Atlantic defense pact after Russia invaded Ukraine, but faced objections from Turkey who accuses Stockholm of "harboring terrorists." Turkey agreed to give green light in the context of a trilateral deal with Sweden and Finland in June, provided that Sweden cracks down harder on Kurdish political activists who Ankara calls "terrorists," stops supporting Kurdish militia in Northern Syria, and lifts embargoes imposed on Turkey after its occupation of parts of Syria in 2019.
Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told a news conference after Cavusoglu's remarks on resumption of talks: "I of course welcome Turkey's announcement that they want to resume the discussions regarding the trilateral agreements that Sweden has with Turkey and Finland."
Sweden's Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said in Brussels: "It is a welcome and good message from Turkey."