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NATO believes Sweden has taken important steps to meet Turkey's demands.

 

NATO believes Sweden has taken important steps to meet Turkey's demands.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that he was convinced that Sweden has already taken "important steps" to satisfy the concerns of Turkey, which blocks the entry of this and Finland into the Alliance because it considers that its position on Kurdish terrorism is lukewarm. Stoltenberg told Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson that "I appreciate that Sweden has begun to change its anti-terrorism legislation and that it will ensure that the legal framework for arms exports reflects its future status as a NATO member, with new commitments to allies."


After a meeting between Stoltenberg and the Swedish Social Democratic government, Andersson reiterated, as he had said last Friday before Parliament in a new foreign policy statement, that Sweden will provide security "to all members" of the Alliance, including Turkey, and he opened himself to lifting the veto on arms sales to this country. Andersson recalled that his country has modified anti-terrorism legislation several times in recent years and that it plans new changes in a few weeks on issues such as financing.


"We take Turkey's considerations very seriously, not least the security issues on counter-terrorism," said the prime minister, who declined to go into detail on issues such as Ankara's alleged request for the extradition of Kurdish activists living in Sweden.


Stoltenberg also refused to reveal how the negotiations are going because he believes it would not be "useful", an adjective he used to describe the "signs" launched by Stockholm, which, in his opinion, show that both Sweden and Finland are ready "to respond concretely to Turkish concerns". The top NATO leader was sympathetic, as he had done yesterday in his visit to Helsinki, to Turkish misgivings and stressed that both NATO and European Union (EU) countries, including Sweden, consider the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) a terrorist group.


None of them referred instead to the Syrian Kurdish militias, People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara calls an offshoot of the PKK but which were allies of the US in the war in Syria and are not considered terrorists by either Washington or Brussels and to which Stockholm has given express support.


There is no set deadline.


Stoltenberg said several times, including in Helsinki, that there is no deadline to come to an agreement that everyone is happy with. He also said that the next summit on the 29th and 30th in Madrid is not a deadline.


"The goal is to resolve these issues as soon as possible." But there are several countries involved, and there is no way to say when we will have solved it, "he told a news conference in Harpsund (south of Stockholm), at the prime minister's holiday residence.


Stoltenberg said that a possible delay in the process wouldn't necessarily pose a security risk for Sweden and Finland. He thinks that both countries are in a better position now than they were before they applied to join NATO, which he says is because of Russia's military intervention in Ukraine.


Many allies, like the United States and the United Kingdom, have given them security guarantees. That makes all the difference. In addition, we are doing more exercises together in the area. If Sweden were attacked, it would be unthinkable that the Allies would not react. "That's a clear message," he said.


The joint decision by Sweden and Finland to end decades of non-alignment and apply for NATO membership, formalized in mid-May, is a "historic" step at a "critical" time for security, according to Stoltenberg. The head of the Alliance is convinced that his accession will strengthen transatlantic cooperation and NATO's presence in northern Europe, as well as enable better cooperation in the Nordic-Baltic region.


Madrid Summit


Sweden and Finland took an unexpected turn in their security policies in just two months by starting to discuss the possibility of joining NATO, although both countries have already been allies of the Alliance for two decades and have been increasing their cooperation with it in recent years.


While in Finland, the process has had greater popular and political support from the beginning, in Sweden it was necessary for two of the three main parliamentary forces to modify their position, including the ruling Social Democratic Party, which just over half a year ago tried at its congress to keep the country out of NATO.


Andersson, who at the beginning of March still defended that line, opened a process of internal discussion in the party, criticized as hasty by some groups, and that paved the way for a controversial decision. Both NATO, Estonia, and Helsinki were thinking of an express entry, which could be finalized at the Madrid summit. However, Turkey's threats to blockade have made the process harder, since all countries in the transatlantic organization must support the entry.


Since the end of May, the first rounds of negotiations between the three countries have been launched, with no significant progress having been made so far.

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