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Sunday, August 14, 2022

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Finland, Sweden reach NATO agreement with Turkey

Published Jul 1, 2022


Cape Town - The foreign ministers of Sweden , Finland and Turkey released a joint memorandum this week that settled key matters during crunch talks in the lead up to the NATO summit in Madrid.

Importantly, both Nordic countries agreed not to provide assistance to Syrian Kurdish YPG militia - PKK, that has led insurgent operations inside Turkey for decades.

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Both Sweden and Finland acknowledged PKK as a terror organisation.

The Nordic countries also promised to disrupt the financing and recruitment activities of PKK and affiliated groups. In addition, they pledged not to support the network of exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen (FETO).

According to AP, Turkey has blamed Gulen, a former ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who lives in the United States, for a deadly 2016 coup attempt and accuses him of infiltrating state institutions with his followers.

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“Finland and Sweden also agreed to address Turkey’s outstanding extradition requests for people Turkey deems terrorists, saying they would do so in accordance with the European Convention on Extradition”, reported AP.

In addition, the Nordic countries also agreed to lift an arms embargo they imposed on Turkey in 2019 following Turkey’s military operation against the YPG militia in Syria.

“As prospective NATO Allies, Finland and Sweden extend their full support to Turkiye against threats to its national security. To that effect, Finland and Sweden will not provide support to YPG/PYD, and the organisation described as FETO in Turkiye. Turkiye also extends its full support to Finland and Sweden against threats to their national security. Finland and Sweden reject and condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, in the strongest terms. Finland and Sweden unambiguously condemn all terrorist organisations perpetrating attacks against Turkiye, and express their deepest solidarity with Turkiye and the families of the victims,” read the memorandum.

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The memorandum becomes important in the context of the NATO summit this week.

Prior to the summit, Turkey had indicated that it planned to use its veto powers to block Finnish and Swedish applications to join NATO unless they met Turkey’s demands. Turkey believed that the nordic countries were not strict enough on groups like PKK and FETO it considered a threat to its security.

US president Joe Biden welcomed the agreement between the three countries.

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“I congratulate Turkey, Finland and Sweden on signing a trilateral memorandum, which paves the way for Allies to invite Finland and Sweden to join NATO at the Madrid Summit,” said Biden in a statement.

The memorandum was signed by the foreign ministers of the three countries – Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu of Turkey, Pekka Haavisto of Finland, and Ann Linde of Sweden – in the presence of all three national leaders, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

“I strongly welcome the signing of this trilateral memorandum, and I strongly welcome the constructive approach all three countries have shown during the negotiations. Finnish and Swedish membership of NATO is good for Finland and Sweden, it is good for NATO, and it is good for European security,” said Stoltenberg.

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