and US reportedly put pressure on NATO candidates


Sweden and Finland were encouraged to comply with Ankara’s demands, Turkish media claim

Washington and London are reportedly leading a lobbying campaign to pressure Sweden and Finland to accept Turkey’s demands, which are blocking NATO membership for the two countries.

The claim was made by Turkish lawmakers who attended a NATO event in Lithuania last week, as reported by Turkish media on Thursday.

According to a report in the Hurriyet newspaper, delegations from the US and UK told their counterparts from Sweden and Finland to accommodate Ankara’s wishes. The alleged exchanges took place during the four-day meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO Allies hosted by Lithuania on May 27.

Turkish MPs who attended the event in Vilnius told the newspaper that deputies from other European member states called Turkey’s demands justified. They claimed the same attitude prevails among the bloc’s leaders.

Turkey threatened to block Sweden and Finland’s requests to accept them as members of NATO, citing a number of grievances. Ankara accused the two countries of harboring Kurdish “terrorists” and endanger Turkey’s security by banning arms exports to the country. The terrorists referred to by Turkish officials are suspected members of the PKK — a Kurdish militant group that has been fighting the Turkish government for decades — and Kurdish militias in Syria and Iraq.

The Turkish side said these issues need to be addressed before parliament ratifies the accession. Sweden and Finland said they were ready to negotiate and make some concessions, such as stepping up surveillance of suspected terrorists on their territory.

Diplomats from the two countries visited Turkey last week and were given written demands, Turkish officials said. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the Scandinavian countries will have to change their laws to get the green light from Ankara.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has stated on multiple occasions that the security concerns of all members must be addressed, but has not publicly called on Sweden and Finland to comply. He expressed the assurance that their differences will be overcome.

At the meeting in Lithuania, the head of the Turkish delegation regretted that the conflict in Ukraine has overshadowed all other issues for NATO. Osman Askin Bak claimed credit for Turkey, claiming it blocked the Russian offensive by supplying armed drones to Kiev. He also said the alliance should… “work on the south flank, which is… quite important,” mentioning Afghanistan and Syria as places of great concern for Turkey.

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