Sweden does not finance terrorists, the country’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson claimed on Wednesday in response to Turkey’s accusations.
Ankara has accused Stockholm of arming and supporting Kurdish militias considered terrorists by Turkey. This position is one of the main reasons behind Turkey’s refusal to give the green light to Sweden’s offer of membership in NATO.
On Wednesday, a Swedish delegation, together with diplomats from the other candidate country, Finland, began negotiations with the Turkish government in Ankara to address its concerns and thus persuade NATO members to support their applications.
At the same time, the Swedish Prime Minister said at a press conference with European Council President Charles Michel in Stockholm that her country is discussing Turkey’s list of conditions and trying to “sort out some ambiguities” that could be seen in previous media reports and in various official statements. However, some things are quite easy to clarify immediately, Andersson said.
“It is easy for us to make it clear that we are not, of course, sending money or weapons to terrorist organizations,” she stressed.
Her remarks came a few days after Omer Celik, a spokesman for the Turkish ruling party, claimed that Ankara had evidence that Swedish weapons had appeared in the hands of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkish troops often carry out cross-border operations against the PKK in Iraq and its Syrian offshoot, the YPG, in Syria.
Michel said at the same time that he preferred not to comment on the issue of Turkish demands, as it could only make the ongoing negotiations in Ankara more complicated for NATO candidates.
However, he emphasized that both the military alliance and the EU benefit from Sweden and Finland joining NATO.
Ahead of the negotiations in Ankara, the Turkish government revealed a list of its demands on NATO aspirants. It also made it clear that they wanted written guarantees from Finland and Sweden before their NATO accession could continue.
Ankara has demanded that both countries take action against Kurdish militants and lift restrictions on arms trade with Turkey.
The two Nordic nations formally requested entry into the US-led military bloc in mid-May amid the Russian offensive in Ukraine. Accession requires the unanimous approval of all existing NATO states. This includes Turkey, which has threatened to veto unless Finland and Sweden make important concessions with regard to their security interests.