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Turkish Defense Minister Says Sweden, Finland Not Meeting Requirements to Join NATO

© AP Photo / Turkish Defense MinistryМинистр обороны Турции Хулуси Акар
Министр обороны Турции Хулуси Акар - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.01.2023
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Turkey has been observing that Sweden and Finland did not meet the requirements to gain NATO membership by leaving export restrictions in effect and supporting the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), labeled as terrorist by Ankara, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Tuesday.
"We observe that Sweden and Finland do not fulfill the obligations under the [security] memorandum. We expect concrete measures of ceasing support for terrorist organizations and lifting export restrictions," the minister was quoted as saying by a Turkish newspaper.
Akar also said that Ankara condemned a rally of PKK supporters in Stockholm, where the demonstrators hung a puppet of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by its feet.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the Swedish ambassador to Ankara in protest of the PKK rally. In addition, the Turkish Prosecutor General's Office opened a criminal case into the matter.
In May 2022, three months since the onset of the Ukraine crisis, Finland and Sweden submitted their NATO membership applications, abandoning decades of neutrality and citing a shift in the security situation in Europe. The consideration of the bids was initially blocked by Turkey due to Helsinki and Stockholm's long-standing support for the PKK, which Ankara regards as a threat to its national security.
In June, Turkey, Sweden and Finland signed a security memorandum that unblocked the beginning of negotiations on the accession of the two Scandinavian countries to the alliance. The parties agreed to strengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism, including measures against the PKK, and lift restrictions on arms exports to Turkey. Only Turkey and Hungary have not yet approved the membership of the two new candidates out of the 30 members of the alliance.
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