Conflicts & War

Nato chief: Sweden has taken ‘important steps’ to meet Turkish demands

Copenhagen, Jun 13 (EFE).- Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg on Monday said that Sweden had taken measures to ease concerns raised by Turkey, which is blocking the admission of the Nordic nation over its alleged lukewarm position on Kurdish terrorism.

“I welcome that Sweden has already started to change its counterterrorism legislation and that Sweden will ensure that their legal framework for arms exports will reflect their future status as a Nato member, with new commitments to allies,” Stoltenberg.

“These are two important steps to address concerns Türkiye has raised,” the Nato secretary-general said at a joint press conference with Sweden’s prime minister Magdalena Andersson.

Finland and Sweden, both traditionally neutral states, decided to apply to the military alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has shifted public opinion in the region.

Sweden is committed to the security of the Nato members, including Turkey, Andersson said after a meeting with Stoltenberg.

Swedish anti-terror legislation has been modified several times over the past few years and more changes are to be introduced in the upcoming weeks, she added.

“We take the Turkish concerns very seriously and other issues and not at least there’s security concerns when it comes to the fight against terrorism,” Andersson said without discussing issues such as an alleged Turkish request for the extradition of Kurdish activists residing in Sweden.

Stoltenberg also declined to reveal the state of the ongoing negotiations, while he praised steps taken by Stockholm that show that both Sweden and Finland are ready to address the Turkish concerns.

Although Stoltenberg pointed out that Nato and the European Union, including Sweden, label the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as a terror group, he did not mention the Kurdish-Syrian YPG militias, which Ankara regards as inextricably linked to the PKK although is backed by Sweden, and was a military ally of the United States in the region during the fight against the Islamic State.

Stoltenberg reiterated on several occasions that there is no deadline to reach an agreement that satisfies all parties.

“We are working to find the solution as soon as possible. But when many countries or several countries are involved, there is no way to say exactly when these countries are going to be able to agree,” he added.

A hypothetical delay in the process would not necessarily mean a security problem for Sweden and Finland, Stoltenberg said, adding that both are in a better position now than before submitting their request to join Nato.

“Many Nato Allies have already issued security assurances to Sweden. The United Kingdom, actually here at Harpsund, the United States and other Allies. That makes a difference,” he said.

“And not least because also Nato has stepped up its presence, with more exercises, with more presence in the region air, sea, land.

“And that makes a difference, meaning that if Sweden was attacked, then I deem it as unthinkable that Nato Allies would not react. And that is a message that we have conveyed, the Nato Allies have conveyed, in a very clear way to end the potential adversary,” he added.

Stoltenberg is convinced that their entry will strengthen transatlantic cooperation and Nato’s presence in northern Europe, in addition to enabling better cooperation in the Nordic-Baltic region. EFE


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