UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS BY TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESMAN
By Merve Aydogan, Ahmet Gencturk, and Jeyhun Aliyev
ANKARA (AA) - Turkiye has made clear to Sweden and Finland during a meeting in the capital Ankara that their NATO bid cannot progress unless Ankara's security concerns are met through concrete steps and a certain timeframe, the presidential spokesman said on Wednesday.
Noting that PKK, YPG, and PYD are all same terror groups, Turkiye conveyed its expectations on this matter to the delegations from Sweden and Finland during the meeting, Ibrahim Kalin told a news conference following the closed-door consultative meeting that lasted nearly five hours.
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkiye, the US, and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of at least 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG/PYD is PKK’s Syrian offshoot.
"In the reports prepared on the PYD/YPG, we explained that the organization committed war crimes. Therefore, we expressed that the reports should not be hidden in order to acquit the PYD/YPG.
"We stated that if Turkiye's security concerns are not met with concrete steps, the process will not progress. The delegations received our message. They will discuss our demands with their leaders and they will respond to us," he said.
Turkiye expects the "correct implementation" of the 1999 NATO summit principles and procedures related to the alliance membership process, Kalin added.
He underlined that Ankara has been making extradition requests to Sweden and Finland for the last 10 years.
- 'Just manner'
The security concerns of the NATO members should be addressed in a "just manner," Kalin stressed.
Kalin went on to say that NATO membership application by Sweden and Finland coincides with an important "turning point."
"Turkiye has a very serious role in NATO principles in 70 years of NATO history. NATO is a security alliance, the countries that will become members should address the member states' security concerns.
"Therefore, the most fundamental issue of this alliance is to meet the security concerns of its members equally and justly. Turkiye has made very serious contributions to this alliance. Turkiye's security concerns are related to the presence of terrorist organizations, especially in European countries," he said.
"Our expectations are that concrete steps should be taken towards the organizational and financial propaganda of the terrorist organizations there," he noted.
He also emphasized that Turkiye observed a "positive approach" by Finland and Sweden in discussions about lifting the sanctions on arms and defense industry products that the two countries had imposed on Turkiye.
"It is unacceptable that NATO allies impose sanctions on each other," Kalin said.
The Turkish delegation at the meeting was headed by Kalin and Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal.
The participants of the meeting included Swedish State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Security Oscar Stenstrom and Permanent State Secretary for the Finnish Foreign Ministry Jukka Salovaara, along with their delegations.
Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO last week -- a decision spurred by Russia's war on Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24.
But Turkiye, a longstanding member of the alliance, has voiced objections to their membership bids, criticizing the Baltic states for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups.